Columbia’s city council listened to more than three hours of emotional testimony Monday night before voting to approve a four-page bill that expresses support for the LGBTQ community and declares the city a safe haven for free speech and expression. The vote was 6-1, with fifth ward councilman Don Waterman casting the lone no vote.
LGBTQ advocates packed the chamber last night, with one resident telling the council this is a life-saving measure and is about basic human decency. The Missouri Student Association from Mizzou also spoke for it, as did several Mizzou students. Another supporter testified he and others would move away from Columbia, if the council did not pass the ordinance.
Opponents also spoke, with a grandmother named Bonnie telling the council her grandchildren are afraid to go to the restroom at school. She tells the council no child should have to fear going to the restroom. Bonnie also criticized her third ward councilman Roy Lovelady, who’s pushed the ordinance. She tells Councilman Lovelady that he’s supposed to be representing her.
KMIZ’s Mitch Kaminsky from our news partner ABC-17 News reports so many people packed the council chamber that Mayor Buffaloe asked a few people to move to nearby conference rooms, so they wouldn’t violate the fire code.
The new ordinance says the city of Columbia “recognizes the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion when it comes to being a competitive employer, building a strong local economy and enriching the community to be better than the sum of its parts, as well as recognizing LGBTQ people have long contributed to the rich history and social fabric or Columbia and this country,” it reads in part.
A new Missouri law bans gender-affirming health care treatments. The new ordinance directs city staff to decline any enforcement of those laws. 939 the Eagle’s Mike Murphy reports the four-page ordinance is carefully written to not actually conflict with or break any state laws, just to ignore them.