SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - An LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Missouri's third largest city went down to defeat tonight as voters narrowly affirmed Question 1 by a margin of just three percent.

With a little over 97 percent of votes tallied, 15,347 Springfield residents or 51.43 percent opted to repeal the ordinance while 14,493 or 48.57 percent voted to retain the measure. There was approximately a 40 percent voter turnout in Tuesday's election. 

Activists on both sides of the issue wrapped up months of campaigning over the weekend. PROMO, Missouri's LGBT advocacy organization, was one of several No Repeal supporters organizing phone banks and canvassing around the issue.

“While we are disappointed in tonight’s vote, we know Springfield is a better community because of this campaign, and were proud to be a part it," said PROMO executive director, A.J. Bockelman. "We are grateful to all of the individuals, families, businesses, and faith leaders who spoke up throughout this campaign. We are still here for each other, and we will still work together to continue to make Springfield a welcoming place for ALL people. Tomorrow, just as today, we continue working to achieve equality.”

In a 6-3 vote on Oct. 13, The Springfield City Council passed City Ordinance 6141, a bill to amend the city’s current nondiscrimination ordinance by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

But any celebration was short-lived when, in November, an opposition group successfully turned in more than 2,600 signatures (the threshold is 10 percent of the votes in the most recent April municipal election) to repeal the expansion through a ballot referendum known as Question 1.

Backers of repeal said they don't want the regulations expanding into their businesses, their churches or their restrooms.

LGBT advocates maintained that while religious freedom is a fundamental part of Springfield and America, those beliefs do not allow for businesses to discriminate.

 Prior to tonight's vote, four out of the eight efforts nationwide to repeal existing LGBT inclusive nondiscrimination laws have prevailed at the polls. In Dec. 2014, Fayetteville, Ark. voters successfully repealed their LGBT nondiscrimination law by approximately 500 votes.

More than 152 Springfield businesses signed on in support of the No Repeal campaign.




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