Elected Libertarian leads repeal of anti-homosexual law in Missouri

From Doug Burlison, Libertarian city councilmember in Springfield, Missouri:

On September 8, at my urging, our City Council (of which I am a member) repealed a local ordinance that prohibited homosexuals from "soliciting" each other. In other words, it was O.K. to put the "heterosexual moves" on a member of the opposite sex, but if you’re gay, any talk about sex could’ve invited punitive measures…until now.

The measure was added to some other items which were repealed as a package, it was basically a legal "housekeeping" ordinance. It was a unanimous vote by all councilmembers in attendance.

Afterwards, it seemed to be a rather subdued reaction. This issue was not of the highest profile, whereas we are intently working on solving the underfunded status of our Police and Fire Pension System. Building up to the vote, however, we received quite a few e-mail messages pro and con. The quantity of the "pro" messages exceeded both the quantity and the civility levels of the "con" messages, which included threats of lawsuits and future electoral failure. Speaking for myself only, I can tell you when someone issues a threat to me, I will not respond the way that they desire. I did receive a few congratulatory e-mails and expressions of gratitude, which helps to defray the numerous complaints that you hear in a job like this (which is an unpaid, volunteer position, by the way).

This would not have been addressed if I had not initially pushed the issue. My awareness of this ordinance came about at a local Pridefest earlier this year, when I accompanied local Libertarians who manned a booth at the event. Across the street, several neo-nazis and white supremacists were protesting the event, with some signage that recommended death and hell for gays. At one point, a local pastor, Dr. Roger Ray, took the stage and made a speech which highlighted and condemned the homosexual solicitation ordinance that we still had in our city code. To hear a man of the cloth reading a portion of our city law that targeted a specific population, and that the exact language of the law was very pornographic in tone, coupled with the sounds of fascist protests in the background; I knew what needed to be done. Dr. Ray even handed me his copy of the ordinance so that I could reference it. This was a great opportunity for me, in that a large part of my motivation for getting into politics was and is to fight against oppression wherever it raises its ugly head. My libertarian background also equipped me for this particular fight as well. In the end, I also had the support of my colleagues on the council, as was evidenced by the final vote. Sometimes, things do work out all right.

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