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The Springfield City Council is going to consider a resolution voicing formal support for Springfield’s LGBTQ citizens at its June 5 meeting.
The measure calls for reaffirmation of the City Council’s commitment to apply the guiding principles of the 2022 Mayor’s Initiative of Equity and Equality report to the LGBTQ community. It also calls for Springfield’s city government to strive for a “dedication to continued collaboration with constituents from the LGBTQ community and all citizens to improve the culture of inclusion and belonging in Springfield.”
Council members Monica Horton, Heather Hardinger, Brandon Jenson and Craig Hosmer are co-sponsoring the resolution, which will require five of a possible nine votes to pass. Last year’s Equity and Equality report passed unanimously.
The Mayor’s Initiative for Equity and Equality was established in 2021 with the charge of developing “guiding principles to improve equitable access to opportunities, recognizing the inherent dignity, value and worth of each individual.”
The five principles, or pillars, are:
- Dialogue and understanding
- Cultural consciousness
- Advocacy and partnerships
- Identification and removal of structural and systemic barriers
- Personal accountability and organizational accountability
“We need to be able to apply, in real terms, what does it mean to foster and have a commitment to dialogue and understanding cultural consciousness and to break those systematic barriers,” Horton told the Springfield Daily Citizen.
The resolution also denounces discrimination of LGBTQ community members, recognizes their contributions in the community and that protecting everyone’s rights will strengthen economic vitality and quality of place in Springfield.
Resolution proposed amid pending state legislation targeting trans community
The resolution comes before council members as Missouri Gov. Mike Parson weighs legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for minors, end Medicaid coverage of gender-affirming care treatment for adults and prevent transgender women from participating on girls sports teams.
In opposition to this legislation, cities like Kansas City and St. Louis are affirming their support for the LGBTQ community and seeking to establish themselves as safe havens. While their measures will not be able to override state law, they are seeking to minimize the impact these potential laws could have on their LGBTQ communities.
“This is about retaining local control over our narrative of who we want to be as a community irrespective of the state or national conversation,” Horton said.
She also emphasized that, through this resolution, the City Council would merely build on the foundation advocacy organizations and community members have already worked towards.
Hosmer said the resolution isn’t that groundbreaking, and that Springfield should, without question, be welcoming and accepting of diversity.
“Sometimes things are created to be controversial, or people try to make things controversial and they really aren’t, but I don’t think anybody can argue that we should be a city that takes into consideration the different viewpoints and life experiences of everybody,” Hosmer said.
While Hosmer said he doesn’t agree with some of the proposals coming out of Jefferson City, his sponsorship of the resolution wasn’t in direct opposition to the recent legislation targeting some members of the LGBTQ community. Instead, Hosmer said he is reaffirming some of the decisions the City Council has already passed.
While the Springfield measure doesn’t go as far as the measures in Kansas City and St. Louis, former Springfield City Council candidate and LGBTQ advocate Jeremy Dean is excited about it.
“I just think it’s really important right now, because there’s so much rhetoric coming out of Jefferson City,” Dean said.
In addition to calling for the Springfield City Council’s support at a recent meeting, Dean, along with fellow advocates Heather Dyer and Kyler Sherman-Wilkins, has worked closely with council members to “ensure that we’re getting the best thing that we can for everybody here in the city.”
Dean, alongside his former campaign manager Liz Wertz, sent a letter to council members in late April urging their support for the LGBTQ community.
Some hope this is just the beginning of protecting local LGBTQ community
With his support of this resolution, Jenson hopes “folks in our community who may feel marginalized by any actors that they belong,” but he ultimately feels like more can be done.
“Sending a message is better than doing nothing at all,” Jenson said. “And especially recognizing the value that folks from all walks of life including the LGBT community, the value that they bring to our community and make it a better place for everybody. And also recognizing the discrimination that folks can face and have faced because of their sexuality or gender identity. It’s an important first step, but I don’t personally believe that it is the only step.”
Dean said that there’s always “more that can be done in Springfield,” but is understanding of the need for the city to comply with state laws.
“Of course, I would love to see Springfield become like a sanctuary city, if you will, such as Kansas City,” Dean said. “Everything needs to be weighed to ensure that we’re doing the best things for our citizens.”
The resolution also seeks for the City Council to recognize June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Springfield. June is nationally recognized as Pride Month, and Ozarks Pridefest is hosting its annual event on Saturday, June 10, days after council members may potentially pass the resolution affirming support for the community.
“We are very pleased to know that members of Springfield City Council are introducing a resolution for a statement of support for the LGBTQ community,” a statement from Ozarks Pridefest organizers reads. “As a resource center, we look forward to continuing to facilitate opportunities to learn about and support our community. We think that the resolution is an important step toward our city’s purported commitment to the aforementioned Five Pillars of Change.”