On April 7, voters in Springfield, MO repealed an amendment that had previously added gay men, lesbian women, and transgender people to the city’s existing anti-discrimination ordinance. The vote was 51.4% to 48.6% to repeal. Here are my thoughts on the vote:
1) I support the repeal of the amendment. I believe people of any religion or persuasion should be able to decline lending their services to an event (i.e. gay wedding) that violates their deeply held religious beliefs. I believe this is a basic right of all Americans under the first amendment.
2) I am a little bit surprised the vote was so close. Springfield has a strong evangelical presence and was recently named by one study the sixth most “Bible-minded” city in the country. The fact the margin was so narrow in what has been a traditionally conservative city shows how far the LGBT agenda has advanced.
3) I am saddened by how this issue has divided our region, and the hard feelings that exist between friends and neighbors. I hope we can be kind and respectful in our discourse with one another in coming days. I am also sad because I know how Springfield will be portrayed in the national media as a result of this vote. Many unkind things will be said about our city, most of which will be either unfair caricatures or flatly untrue. (See media assault on the good people of Indiana.)
4) Neither side should overreact as a result of this vote. Contrary to the rumors, businesses are not going to start refusing service to people simply because they’re gay. (That’s not what this vote was about, and it never was.) Life will go on pretty much as it has. There may be a few businesses who choose not to cater a gay wedding based on their religious convictions, but I imagine they will pay a steep price in the marketplace. Transgender men will continue to quietly use women’s restrooms (like they no doubt already are) and no one will be the wiser. Likewise, it would be a mistake for those of us supporting the repeal to think the community is squarely on our side and we have “won the culture war.” This is clearly not the case. The LGBT community has already stated this was not about one night, and they will not be deterred. This is a movement and, quite frankly, it’s probably inevitable that similar measures will pass in the future.