Charlotte City Council on Monday voted down a proposed ordinance which sought to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, commercial contracting and taxi services.

The 11-member panel voted 6-5 against the measure.

Nine councilors voted to remove a portion of the ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice, considered the proposal's most controversial issue.

More than 120 people from both sides signed up to speak at a marathon public hearing held before the vote that went on for four hours.

At a rally held before the meeting organized by the Don't Do It Charlotte campaign, speakers insisted that passage would put children at risk.

“To support this law is to be a bully,” Jason Jimenez told the crowd of roughly 200. “We as adults in this city have a right to protect our children. … This process is corrupt. We are telling the City Council: We know your dirty business.”

“[I]t opens the door for male heterosexual predators to pose as women under the guise of being transgender,” wrote David Benham, a Charlotte real estate entrepreneur who became a Christian celebrity last year after HGTV canceled a planned reality show featuring him and his twin brother ostensibly because of their anti-gay views. “Remember, being transgendered is a psychological state of mind that anyone can claim, no matter what clothes they wear.”

(Related: David Benham suggests kind gestures can turn gays straight.)

Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina, accused opponents of spreading “fearful rhetoric.”

“The loudest voices in the room are not always representing the majority,” he said during Monday's meeting. “This is the right thing to do, for fairness, for business and for our community.”

According to the Charlotte Observer, 17 out of America's 20 biggest cities have approved similar non-discrimination measures. Only Charlotte, Memphis, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida are without.