After months of heated debate, San Antonio on Thursday approved a gay-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

The San Antonio City Council approve the measure with an overwhelming 8-3 vote.

Social conservatives opposed to the ordinance packed the council chambers and lashed out at supporters for comparing the issue to the civil rights movement.

San Antonio joins nearly 180 cities nationwide with similar ordinances, including Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin and El Paso.

Opponents of the measure argued that it would have a chilling effect on religious expression. Democratic Mayor Julian Castro, a top supporter, addressed their fears on Thursday: “I just don't believe you.”

After the vote, Castro tweeted to his nearly 14,000 followers: “The San Antonio City Council's vote to pass an LGBT and veterans anti-discrimination ordinance is a great step forward for our city.”

According to the AP, more than 700 people signed up to speak during a public hearing on Wednesday and an additional 100 on Thursday morning.

The debate in San Antonio drew national attention as big-name Republicans weighed in against the measure, including Attorney General Greg Abbott and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Abbott, a gubernatorial candidate, warned that the law would provoke a lawsuit over religious freedoms.

The debate boiled over after a secretly recorded tape surfaced in which Councilwoman Elisa Chan is heard calling gays “disgusting” and arguing that they are not fit to parent. She faced pressure to resign but instead defended her comments.

(Related: Elisa Chan defends saying gays are “disgusting.”)

“Just because I disagree with the lifestyle of the LGBT community doesn't mean I dislike them,” Chan is quoted as saying by the AP before Thursday's vote. “Similarly, just because one opposes this ordinance, does not mean one is for discrimination.”

Chan voted against the ordinance.