OZARK, MO – A letter penned by a well-known Springfield, Mo. attorney about equality efforts at a southwest Missouri fire department is drawing the ire of the LGBT community.


Prominent Defense attorney Dee Wampler sent the letter to several individuals regarding same-sex benefits within the Ozark Fire Department, including Capt. Andi Mooneyham, an Ozark firefighter who recently petitioned for health benefits for her wife and other same-sex couples who work for the department now and in the future.


Last month, The Ozark Fire Department declined to allow same-sex benefits for Mooneyham and others after board attorney Todd Johnson wrote a letter stating ‘Missouri's constitution, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, does not allow the policy change.’


Wampler's letter expressed his support of the board's decision and his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.


"I am tired of promo attempting to cram homosexuality and lesbians down our throats," the letter says. "You have followed the law and I congratulate you. Now — back to fighting fires."


"We are incredibly disappointed that Mr. Wampler felt it was necessary to send Captain Mooneyham this letter, said Stephanie Perkins, Deputy Director at PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization. “Captain Mooneyham, just like every other LGBT person, deserves the right to ask for equal protection in the workplace and under the law without fear of being attacked by such degrading language. If there was any doubt homophobia and discrimination exist in Springfield, there shouldn't be now."


According to the Department, three of the five fire board members supported changing the policy.


Mooneyham declined to comment on the letter.


UPDATE:  Wampler shares a law practice and letterhead with Attorney Joseph Passanise, campaign treasurer for Republican State Auditor Tom Schweich, prompting this letter from PROMO Executive Director, A.J. Bockelman:


 Auditor Schweich;


Earlier this month, Captain Andi Mooneyham with the Ozark Fire Board was denied domestic partner benefits by the local fire protection district. Today, upon returning to work, Captain Mooneyham was greeted by the attached letter from the Wampler/Passanise law firm, signed by Trial Attorney Dee Wampler.


Auditor, we have no reason to believe you to be anti-gay, however it is of great concern to us that the attached letter comes on the letterhead of your campaign treasurer, Attorney Joseph Passanise. The letter is demeaning and intentionally degrading to a public servant such as Captain Mooneyham.


While we know neither you nor Mr. Passanise authored this letter, we call on both you and your campaign treasurer to denounce this bigoted action.  As a statewide office holder, you stand for all Missourians, including the LGBT community. Your Treasurer, by allowing such a letter to be sent utilizing his name, endorses continued discrimination and targeting of the LGBT community.


PROMO calls on you to be clear and swift in denouncing this type of discrimination.


A.J. Bockelman
Executive Director





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