MAPLEWOOD, MO (KTVI) – Controversy at Maplewood City Hall Tuesday night, as an ordinance to prevent LGBT discrimination narrowly passed in a 4 to 3 vote.
During public comments, about a dozen people made passionate pleas for both sides of the issue. One resident said the ordinance isn’t about whether folks think homosexuality is right or wrong; it’s about stopping bullying and hate crimes.
Some who spoke out against the ordinance say it isn’t right for the city to force beliefs on its residents. Maplewood resident Karen Lightfoot was one of them. She says, “I am disappointed. I think in the long run the city’s going to regret this. I think there will be lawsuits.”
Maplewood City Councilman Tim Dunn, who spearheaded the effort to pass the ordinance, isn’t surprised by the controversy. He explains, “America’s still a bit puritanical, those words just get people uneasy. So am I surprised? No.”
St. Louis LGBT Center Executive Director Leon Braxton says anti-discrimination ordinances significantly benefit the LGBT community: “What we’re doing is we just want to share and not be treated as second class citizens anymore. You know we pay our taxes, we pay our bills, we love people just like everyone else so we want to be treated like everyone else.”
The new ordinance will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the other types of discrimination already against the law, like race and religion.
Maplewood is only the seventh out of 96 municipalities in the St. Louis metro area to pass this anti-discrimination ordinance. The city of St. Louis was the first.
Maplewood’s ordinance has been in the works since May, and will take effect in 15 days.