Hours before the city council meeting began, supporters of the amendment stood outside the Civic Center, holding signs and showing their support.
“I hope for a more positive future one that’s more accepting for everybody,” said Maxwell Hedon, transgender. “I don’t think anybody should have to not want to come out, not want to come out, not want to worry about if I were to walk down the street holding someone’s hand. If I use the wrong bathroom is someone going to beat me up, give me a ticket.”
Inside people packed council chambers, waiting for city council to begin and a decision to be made on the amendment of the civil rights ordinance. Originally in 2011 the council added “sexual orientation” to the civil rights ordinance, but it did not enforce penalties for possible discrimination. The new amendment would impose a fine of up to $2,500 for discrimination against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender.
“I do disagree with that type of marriage but it’s like you can just go to somewhere else to have it done I don’t believe I should be fined for that,” said one man during public comment. “I just think that’s common sense, I just don’t want to participate. It’s my right to my religion and also to peaceful protest.”
City councilwoman Michelle Mercer, at-large, and city councilman Justin Elpers opposed the amendment. Mercer the more outspoken on it.
“We do not want anyone to be discriminated against,” said Mercer. “It’s not right to harm other groups of people in order to help one group of people.”
Mercer motioned to remove the word “exclusively” from the amendment, but with a 6-3 vote that was not accepted.
“You know this hatred has to stop,” said Missy Mosby, ward 2. “We’ve got to love on another and treat people equally.”
Council passed the amendment with a 7-2 vote. Mercer and Elpers both voted against it.