Residents of Springfield, Mo. voted Tuesday to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting members of the LGBT community, just six months after it was implemented.
The “yes, repeal” votes prevailed over the “no repeal” camp 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent, according to local news station KYTV. The news station noted that turnout for the April election in Greene County, where Springfield is located, was the highest it had been in decades.
The repeal came amid heated debate over so-called “religious freedom” bills in Indiana and Arkansas which critics believed would have allowed businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples if doing so violated their religious beliefs. Once the Indiana bill was signed into law, widespread public backlash forced the state legislature to agree to clarify that the law does not allow discrimination against anyone.
The Springfield City Council had added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance in October, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
The newspaper reported that critics concerned about the new protections’ impact on religious freedom and use of bathrooms gathered enough signatures to put the issue back in front of the City Council. The non-discrimination ordinance went up for a vote after the council declined to repeal the measure.
The city’s mayor, Bob Stephens, has said that such issues should be decided at the federal level, according to the News-Leader. But newly-elected City Councilman Justin Burnett told the newspaper that he supported the repeal of the anti-discrimination ordinance.
“The problem with the ordinance is that it had so many potential legal ramifications for businesses, for public safety, for the good of the city,” he told the News-Leader. “There was no need for the ordinance.”