A bill which seeks to add sexual orientation as a protected class to Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 has been tabled after lawmakers held a contentious hearing on Wednesday.

House Speaker Jase Bolger's office said that demands by Democrats to add gender identity to the proposed legislation had killed the effort.

“The extremists on the left were successful in preventing civil rights protections for gays and lesbians in Michigan,” Ari Adler, Bolger's spokesman, is quoted as saying by The Detroit News.

“By taking a hard line and insisting that we provide double protection for transgender individuals, they blocked protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals,” Adler said, a reference to Bolger's argument that transgender people are already protected under the classification of “sex.”

The current law prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations based on age, race, sex, religion and other factors.

At a House Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, Republican Rep. Frank Foster, chairman of the committee, said that there were not enough votes on his committee to advance his legislation, which only includes sexual orientation, to the House floor.

Pastor Stacy Swimp testified against the bill, calling it “yet another step in the assault on religious liberty.”

“There's a comparison between the homosexual allegation of gay rights and black civil rights,” Swimp said. “And as a minister of the Gospel, and as a black American … I stand here today rather offended. … No one from the LGBT community has ever had fire hoses turned on them by the police department, they have never had to drink out of an LGBT water fountain.”

Foster questioned Swimp's statements: “Did you listen to the ACLU's testimony? Because I'll be happy to bring them back up again.”

“I just want to remind you of the lynching of Matthew Shepard,” Democratic Rep. Henry Yanez said to applause.

In a Thanksgiving message to supporters, Representative-elect Todd Courser, a Republican, said that if approved, the legislation would discriminate against Christians.

“Thanksgiving is about the impossible journey of a small group of worshipers who took flight from oppression to have the freedom to practice their religion without the interference of government,” Courser wrote, “we are now, if this expansion to Elliott Larsen passes at the hands of my own party, at the point where the group that will be discriminated against is Christians and any other faith that chooses to stand against the LGBT activists – we will no longer have the freedom to practice our religion or have freedom of speech that our Founders personally sacrificed to give us.”

He added that it was his responsibility as an elected official to stand up against “evil.”

“We, as Republican Elected Officials cannot allow leaders, who exist by the power they derived from our districts, to promote evil, without standing up and forcing the issues into the public; if we do then we ourselves are complicit in this unholy alliance. Right now, it is the Republican, not the Democrat, leadership who is moving to grant protected class status to the LGBT community and in so doing destroy freedoms of religion and speech for our children and their children,” he said.