SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Hundreds of people packed into Springfield City Hall on Monday night to show their support or opposition to a proposed ordinance change that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes in Springfield.
The hot button issue drew so many people that, for the first time ever, Historic City Hall reached building capacity of 281 people, according to city spokeswoman Cora Scott. An additional 181 people waited outside the building and watched the proceedings from their smartphones.
If the bill passes, the two groups would be protected from housing, public accommodations, and employment discrimination.
Those against the measure cited a number of reasons for their opposition, including religious beliefs, undue hardship on business, and a lack of necessity.
"I want to start by saying this ordinance is completely unwarranted. There are no signs saying homosexuals need not apply, there are no job applications with heterosexual, homosexual, transgender check boxes. I have not heard any lawsuits alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual identity, and the introduction of this ordinance has created the debate that we're having here today," said one of of Monday night's speakers who opposed the measure.
People in favor of the protected status also stated a host of reason for their support, including equal treatment and protection.
"I am appalled, appalled, at the lack of intolerance bordering on hate, some have been expressed -- some professing to be Christians. My stance is not about suppressing freedom of speech. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and perspective. That being said, Christians have had protected status by the First Amendment; one of the basic tenants this country was founded on was freedom of religion, and, for some, freedom from religion," said one speaker who supports the ordinance.
The public hearing will be re-opened in two weeks. Council could also vote on the measure at the meeting on Aug. 27.