Springfield is the third largest city in Missouri, but it may win the title as the most homophobic. By a narrow margin, voters in the southwestern town voted Tuesday to repeal an ordinance that prohibited discriminating against the LGBT citizens in housing or the workplace. The ordinance was passed by the city council just last October.
Opponents of the ordinance insisted that conservative Christians are the real victims. “Christian businessmen all over the country are being sued for not participating in gay weddings,” wrote Calvin Morrow, head of Christians United for Political Action,, the group behind the repeal. “To serve those types of celebrations violates their consciences … Do we suspend free speech for Christians and use police powers to force compliance?”
How this translates into the right to throw people out of work and out of their homes is unclear. Morrow did not provide the Biblical verse that supports that argument.
The campaign against the ordinance depended heavily on fear, and in particular fear of transgender people. The specter of having to share a bathroom with a transgender person apparently left a majority of voters with their Depends in a knot.
“It gives anyone claiming to be transgender the right to choose which public locker room, dressing room, bathroom, or other previously gender specific area they wish to use,” proponents of the measure argued. The anti-ordinance people insisted that they were referring to heterosexual predators pretending to be transgender, and we all know how common a phenomenon that is.
The only positive sign was that the measure passed with such a slim margin: just 51% of the vote. It’s a sign of how much the times have changed that an anti-gay measure in a city where the ultra-conservative (and predictably anti-gay) Assemblies of God is headquartered. That the religious right can’t turn out a landslide there is a sign of how weak their side has become in the culture war they want to keep fighting.