- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A Springfield City Council member said he and the mayor oppose a proposal that would expand a nondiscrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposed rule would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment or public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Springfield, the Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1yx7ZD8 ). It also would expand an exemption for religious groups.

City council member Craig Fishel said in a Community Involvement Committee meeting that he and Springfield mayor Bob Stephens believe the proposed rule goes “way beyond” federal and state standards.

Fishel said the Fair Housing Act covers discrimination a person may experience due to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I don’t think Springfield needs to step out and be unique in this particular issue,” Fishel said.

Fishel also said he has not seen any hard evidence from a city task force report that a Springfield resident has been discriminated against based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Three other council members on the committee disagreed with Fishel. One member and the mayor were absent Tuesday.

“Let’s assume we’re back in 1862, and there’s a proposal like this involving black people,” said Cindy Rushefsky, a council member. “But no African-Americans have come forward with a complaint of discrimination. Would you feel that was really indicative of what the society was, and that it didn’t merit making a statement that we’re in favor of equal rights for black people?”

The city committee voted to send the proposed ordinance to the full council for consideration.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com

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