The Phoenix City Council approved a proposal Tuesday 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 into the night.
Mayor Greg Stanton said the changes would help Phoenix compete with more than 160 U.S. cities that already have enacted similar provisions.
“The more we embrace diversity, the better Phoenix will be for business, tourism, high-wage jobs and our future economy,” Stanton said. “Updating our ordinance is the right thing to do. It’s long past due.”
He said approval of the proposal would mean an employer could not fire someone for being gay, and a hotel could not turn away a same-sex couple.
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.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio said the vote should’ve been postponed “until it gets a proper vetting.” He called the proposal “extremist and radical for Phoenix” and said it could lead to lawsuits for all businesses that operate in the city.
“A more reasonable proposal and transparency is needed,” he said.
But City Council candidate David Lujan said that as the nation’s sixth largest city, Phoenix should take “leadership in adopting initiatives that make our city an attractive place to live, work and visit.”