A handful of business owners are voicing their support for repealing Springfield’s sexual orientation and gender identity ordinance.
Dick Hardy is founder and president of The Hardy Group and former member of the city’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Task Force. During a press conference Monday afternoon, Hardy presented four arguments supporting the repeal, and later reiterated those points during a phone interview with KSMU.
“This particular bill strikes directly at free speech, and my freedom of religious expression,” Hardy said.
His second and third points are that sexual orientation is not a state of being, but a behavior; and that sex is designed by God to be experienced and enjoyed within the context of marriage by a man and a woman. Both issues people will debate, admits Hardy, referring back to his first point; their freedom to do so.
“We don’t make laws throwing one of us in jail because we disagree. That’s what this bill does.”
Lastly, Hardy says that discriminating is not bad, and “is rampant” at the businesses that have voiced their support for the ordinance.
“They discriminate if you lie at their business, if you steal; if you are insubordinate, if you are not following a policy… they discriminate all the time,” he said.
Joining Hardy at Monday’s press conference was Emily Church with Everything Kitchens, John Fuggit with nPrint Graphix, and Carol Croyell with TLC Properties, among others.
Hardy said when you create another protected class, you raise the risk for litigation, which therefore results in added expenses to a business.
“What you’re gonna do is you’re gonna force the business to either cut jobs or raise the prices on people.”
Although not a formal Yes on Question 1 committee event, the group asks for a vote in the affirmative on April 7. A “yes” vote repeals the ordinance while the “no” vote keeps the measure intact.
Earlier this month, representatives with roughly two dozen businesses expressed their support for the ordinance on the steps of City Hall. Business owners and members of the LGBT community talked about how upholding the ordinance will help preserve and grow the business climate.
“If Springfield repeals this ordinance, we will become known as a city that chose to exclude a segment of our population. And that is the wrong message,” said Tim Rosenbury, a business owner and past chairman of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, on March 5.
At that time, the No Repeal campaign presented a list of nearly 120 businesses in favor of the ordinance. That included the Creative Foundry and owner Jim Michels.
“In the secular world, in the business world, it makes no sense to exclude talented individuals because of their gender identity,” Michels said.
But Hardy, who runs a pastoral leadership consulting firm, offered a scenario that would complicate how he runs his business.
“If I got an employee named Robert and all of a sudden he decides to be Roberta, all of my clients are gonna see Roberta as not living consistently with the Biblical position of human sexuality that that client/church hold to be true.”
Hardy says he could at that point keep his employee and lose business, or fire his employee and be subject to violation of the law.
He adds, “It’s right for business to make their own policy. It’s wrong for government or other businesses to tell me what my policy should be.”
In October, the City Council voted 6-3 to expand its non-discrimination ordinance on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodations. A successful referendum petition put the issue on the April 7 ballot.
Follow Scott Harvey on Twitter: @scottksmu