Springfield’s city clerk will now begin the process of verifying more than 2,500 signatures after opponents of a recently passed non-discrimination ordinance submitted a referendum petition on Wednesday. KSMU’s Simone Cook has details.
This ordinance (No. 6141), passed on Oct. 13, expands protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the fields of employment, housing, and public accommodations.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 2,550 signatures had been submitted. The figure is the combination of two separate petitions that have been circulated around town. Springfield City Clerk Brenda Cirtin says she will combine the two petitions into one because the language on each is the same.
In order for the referendum to be certified, Cirtin says she needs to certify that 1,144 of the signatures are from registered voters within the city limits.
“Once I have received them [the signatures], I have 20 days in which to certify them. Now if I am unable to certify the petition, which means that I go through all the signatures they submitted and I don’t have 1,144 registered voters, then they have 10 additional days past the deadline, which is November 12, to submit the signatures.” Cirtin said.
In the meantime, the ordinance remains in effect, until otherwise altered.
Calvin Morrow is a spokesman for the opposition group Springfield Citizens United. He is one of two people spearheading petition drives that dropped off signatures on Wednesday.
“Today, we turned in about 25 to 2600 signatures and well we needed 1,144, I believe, so we are well over that and I think that, you know, they are 99% pure, the signatures, they were carefully taken,” Morrow said.
"If I am able to certify it, then the ordinance, and I certify it to council, then the ordinance becomes suspended until such a time as the election, because council can either repeal it or send it to a ballot on the election.”
Springfield City Council would then have 30 days to decide whether to repeal the ordinance or put the issue on the April ballot.
The petition submitted Wednesday reads as follows:
Referendum Petition for General Ordinance 6141
The undersigned, being electors of the City of Springfield, Missouri, do hereby petition the City Council of the City of Springfield, Missouri to repeal the General Ordinance 6141, finally passed on the 13th day of October 2014, said Ordinance being entitled,
“AMENDING Chapter 2, Administration, Article IV, Boards, Commissions and Committees, Division 4, Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and Community Relations, Section 2-223; and Chapter 62, Human Rights, to add sexual orientation and gender identify to the list of categories of persons protected from discrimination, to consolidate the Commission’s investigative process into a single division of the Code, and the clarify the Commission’s powers in light of recent court decisions. (Community Involvement Committee recommends approval.)”
and should the Council fail to repeal the Ordinance within the time and manner specified at Section 14.7 of the Charter of the City of Springfield, Missouri, then to submit said Ordinance to a special or general election, all as specified in said Section 14.7.