Springfield, Missouri City Council
members are expected to debate Tuesday night whether to repeal a
decades-old importuning law aimed at the gay and lesbian community,
the Springfield News-Leader reported.
The law makes it a crime to sexually
proposition someone of the same gender.
Springfield Mayor Jim O'Neal is
sponsoring the measure that repeals the law first enacted in 1976.
Similar laws have been struck down by
state Supreme Courts in recent years, including one in Ohio. City
Attorney Dan Wichmer agrees the ordinance violates Missouri's
Ordinance 78-224 reads: “It shall be
unlawful for any person in a public place to invite, entice, persuade
or to address a person of the same sex for the purpose of inviting,
enticing or persuading such person to commit sodomy. Sodomy means
any sexual act involving genitals of one person and the mouth,
tongue, hand or anus of another person.”
“It's definitely discriminatory
against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,”
Michael Siepel, spokesman for the Gay and Lesbian Center of the
Ozarks, said in a statement in July. “One of the GLO Center's
purposes is to continue to work towards equal rights for all.”
Similar laws have been used to charge
mostly gay men with indecent behavior. Such laws often state that
the solicitee needs only be “offended” by the gesture, making
even innocent come-ons by a member of the same gender illegal.
City Councilman Doug Burlison has
backed the effort to remove the ordinance from the books. He told
the paper that he has answered many questions about what repealing
the ordinance would actually do.
“This is not a measure approving gay
marriage,” Burlison said. “We're not giving gay people any
additional rights. This is a measure, in my mind, that keeps
everyone on a level playing field and keeps social engineering out of