SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --A Springfield task force wants to stop discrimination when it comes to public housing, but disagrees on ways to expand an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens says during public meetings on the non-discrimination ordinance they were hearing from polarizing voices on opposite ends of the spectrum. So, Stephens says, this final, in-depth report comes from a task force study that lasted for nearly a year.
"One recommendation was that council pass the amended ordinance in the form it was presented to them with a strengthened religious exemption,” says Judge Miles Sweeney. “The second was pass a scaled-back version of it that applied only to housing and it would contain, also, a strong religious exemption."
The recommendation significantly expands the religious exemption.
"The religious exemption applies to churches and church related organizations,” says Sweeney. “So if you owned a church and you were hiring a secretary, it wouldn't apply to you."
Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens says in public meeting council was only hearing polarizing voices either strongly in favor or strongly against the ordinance.
"It is very difficult and very unwise to govern from either extreme on any issue,” says Stephens.
Stephens says City Council will use this report as a tool moving forward.
"City council members, as they get into this can take a look at that report and that vote and feel fairly comfortable that you had a much broader perspective presented to you than we did in the public meeting," says Stephens.
Stephanie Perkins of PROMO was present for most of the task force meetings. Perkins says the depth and breadth of the taskforce's work and this report is promising.
"But, it's really up to the City Council to adopt something like this or to adopt an ordinance,” says Perkins. “Whether its just for housing or its the fully inclusive ordinance before so at this point nothing has been protected."
Perkins said the discrimination is real and that is why the protection needs to come to fruition.
"Any protections are absolutely necessary,” says Perkins. “We definitely see people face discrimination in housing. Protections are definitely a step forward for Springfield. Springfield has a huge, vibrant LGBT community."
The report also warns against taking this issue to a public vote.
City council will now take these findings into consideration.