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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Non-Discrimination Ordinance in Springfield Gains Approval

Springfield City Council voted six to three Monday night to expand protections to the LGBT community with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations.

The passing of the original bill automatically voided the substitute bill sponsored by Mayor Bob Stephens, which only offered housing protections. 

Council member Doug Burlison opened comments by saying there have been extreme emotions on each side of this debate.  He added that, due to the amount of opposition the bill has received, it is a “clear indication of the need for the bill.”

Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky was among those in favor of the bill.

“This bill is not really about homosexuality, or gender identity, or religious freedom.  It is about the right of every citizen of Springfield to be treated like every other citizen of Springfield.  I do not believe my rights depend on how other people feel about me,” Rushefsky says.

Mayor Bob Stephens voted against the measure because of his sponsorship of the substitute bill, in order to keep the bill on the table if the original measure had failed.

Jerry Compton and Craig Fishel also voted against the bill.  Fishel says he has been approached by every major church in Zone 4 and that he feels he needs to represent his district.

“I don’t feel like I can support this issue, partly because in the task force I read the whole study and I found no hard evidence that there is discrimination,” says Fishel.

The bill takes effect immediately.

Theresa received her undergraduate degree in sociology at Missouri State University, as well as her Master's degree in Social Work at MSU. Theresa enjoys writing, drawing, reading, music, working with animals, and most of all spending time with her family. She wishes to continue to use her experiences, combined with her pursuit of education, to foster a sense of empowerment and social awareness in the community. Theresa loves working with KSMU and attributes her passion for NPR, and love of learning, to her father.