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Springfield Mayor, Council received disturbing, threatening emails on gay rights issue

August 28, 2012|By Melody Pettit | mpettit@kspr.com

(SPRINGFIELD, Mo) — It has brought out protesters and large crowds to City Hall, but it has also brought out an emotion Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens doesn't often feel toward his City; embarrassment.

“Springfield is better than the messages I'm receiving,” he said.

He's talking about letters and emails about the controversial sexual orientation issue.

“They’re very shallow, shortsighted and mean spirited,” Stephens said.

Those emails are part of the reason the Council agreed to table it for further review.

“The rhetoric was getting heated. It's a very emotional topic and we felt like we needed a cooling off period,” he said.

The Mayor and council members got hundreds of emails a day about the issue. Most are computer generated, re-peats but they go through every single one.

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“When it takes 8-10 hours to go through your emails, it’s a disservice to those who volunteer to the community,” Stephens said.

Some emails call council members stupid, some have pointed messages about shootings and gay rights violence and others out right threaten that if the Council doesn’t vote a certain way, they will vote them out of office.

“It doesn't make you want to read the rest of it, we do but it's difficult to take,” said Stephens.

The Mayor wants people to engage, and encourages communication on issues but says a line has been crossed and he feels attacked.

The Council will send the issue back to a task force. The Mayor says that doesn't mean they are avoiding the issue, just the opposite. He wants to make sure everyone is heard. He says the extreme sides of this issue are so loud they can't hear from the 90% in the middle. That's why he thinks a task force is the best way to proceed.

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