After a marathon 11-hour debate, Houston City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance which expands anti-bias protections for the LGBT community.

Mayor Annise Parker last month introduced the Equal Rights Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations on the basis of several factors including sexual orientation and gender identity. The measure calls for steep fines for businesses found guilty of discriminating against someone based on race, religion or sexual orientation.

According to, more than 200 people testified before City Council approved the ordinance with an 11-6 vote.

Parker, who is openly gay, applauded passage: “This is not the most important thing I have done or I will do as mayor. But it is the most personally satisfying and most personally meaningful thing that I will do as mayor.”

Outside City Hall, dozens rallied against the measure, holding signs which read “Say No ERO” and “Human Rights Ordinance All Fairy Tales No Facts.”

Opponents have vowed to repeal the ordinance at the ballot box. They have 30 days to collect the more than 17,000 signatures needed to put the issue before voters in November.

Houston was the largest U.S. city without such a law.