PHOENIX - The Phoenix City Council has approved a proposal 5-3 to expand the city's anti-discrimination law to include protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people in city contracts, housing, employment and public accommodations such as restaurants.
The city currently prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information and marital status.
More than 50 people spoke about the issue at a council hearing that lasted more than four hours and stretched from Tuesday afternoon into the night.
The "Bathroom Bill" as it was unofficially known, was very controversial and took more than 10 years to get to this point.
At one point, the crowd started to shout at Councilman Sal DiCiccio who opposed the issue when he tried to speak his mind. DiCiccio said the vote should've been postponed "until it gets a proper vetting."
Fellow Councilman Tom Simplot, who favors the measure, cut off DiCiccio while he was talking. "With all due respect Mr. DiCiccio, you are wasting our time," he said.
Mayor Greg Stanton said the changes would help Phoenix compete with more than 160 U.S. cities that already have enacted similar provisions.
The proposal drew opposition from social conservatives and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. The diocese contends the proposal is too broadly worded and could trample on religious liberties.
The ordinance will have a religious exemption after the church and others came out against the issue.
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