854 votes separated opponents and supporters of a Tuesday measure to repeal Springfield’s non-discrimination law expanding protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In the end, 51.43 percent of voters said “yes” to repeal. KSMU’s Theresa Bettman was at the “Yes on Question 1” watch party when the final numbers were released.
A group of around 50 supporters inside the Lamplighter Inn and Suites conference room were brought to their feet as the final votes were displayed on a large screen.
Calvin Morrow is chairman for the Yes Campaign committee.
“I had no inkling of which way it might go. So I was in a wait-and-see mode and I am very excited about the outcome,” Morrow says.
The election had the highest voter turnout in Greene County since the early 2000s with more than 23 percent. The grassroots Yes campaign gained momentum through church congregations and word-of-mouth support, and lacked the same financial backing of its No Repeal opponents.
Morrow says he is very excited for Springfield but feels the next step will be about healing.
“One thing we are careful not to do is we are not gloating—because we were all damaged on both sides. And my heart goes out to the LGBT community and we are probably going to be looking for ways to unite and connect,” says Morrow.
Opponents had said the bill was unnecessary and would infringe on their religious beliefs. Supporters, meanwhile, said the law offered fundamental civil rights to LGBT persons and showed Springfield as a welcoming community.
Morrow says he feels Springfield is a welcoming community and has never felt differently in the 14 years he has lived here.
The Springfield City Council voted 6-3 in October to expand its non-discrimination ordinance. But a successful referendum petition sent the bill before voters on Tuesday.