Over 400 people in favor of upholding Springfield’s expanded non-discrimination law gathered Tuesday in what turned out to be a narrow race, start to finish.
It was an emotional scene as the group learned they had come up short by less than 1,000 votes. 51.43 percent of voters said yes to repeal the ordinance. But spirits remained high for many shortly after the final votes were released.
Crystal Clinkenbeard, a spokesperson for the No Repeal campaign and One Springfield, said its efforts were about more than just one night of voting.
“It was about changing hearts and minds in Springfield,” Clinkenbeard said. “We really feel like we’ve done that, and moving forward that work will continue."
Kellie Freeman Rohrbaugh is a member of One Springfield.
“I think the thing that we’ve learned is to have conversations,” Rohrbaugh said. “I think the other thing we’ve learned is to say something when something isn’t just, and something isn’t right, and something isn’t fair.”
The Greene County Clerk’s office confirmed that voter turnout was at 23 percent, the highest it’s been in 14 years.
Supporters touted the law as one of fairness and equality for gay and transgender people, adding that it presented Springfield as a welcoming community. Opponents said the bill was unnecessary and infringed on their religious beliefs.
No Repeal officials were not specific about their efforts moving forward.
The issue has been debated in the city for more than two years after a February 2012 proposal by the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights to add the protected class. In October 2014, the City Council voted 6-3 in favor of ordinance 6141. Concerned citizens and clergy then created a referendum to repeal ordinance. Those efforts, which sent the law to a vote, were officially successful on Tuesday.