A Kalamazoo, Michigan city ordinance that protects gay men and lesbians from discrimination remains in political limbo nearly four months after its passage, reports the Kalamazoo Gazette.

City leaders unanimously passed the ordinance that makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the areas of housing, public accommodations and employment on December 1, 2008. A month later the measure was rescinded after a local chapter of the American Family Association (AFA) submitted sufficient signatures to suspend the law until commissioners vote to repeal it or voters decide its future.

The AFA is best known for its divisive anti-gay postures and nationwide boycotts against brands they deem too gay friendly, McDonald's, Campbell's and Pepsi included.

After voting to withdraw the legislation, city commissioners vowed to return with a retooled version.

On Monday, over 200 people showed up at a subcommittee hearing studying the issue to voice their concerns. And while the original ordinance exempted churches and renters of a residence where they live, opponents roundly denounced it as an attempt to discriminate against religious groups.

Mary Balkema, who spoke on behalf of Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination, said the measure would “victimize” religious groups.

“No religious person should be indicted for living out his protected religious convictions.”

“I think the amendment itself is discriminatory. I think it violates constitutionally guaranteed rights – freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. I think it violates the privacy rights and safety of women and children,” Balkema said.

“Nothing is more central to our values and our faith as freedom and justice for all,” Rev. Matthew Laney said in supporting the ordinance.

The hearing being held at a public library was relocated to City Hall when the library closed at 9PM. The three-member subcommittee had allocated only two hours for the public forum, which lasted till 11PM. Further comments are being accepted until March 26 by mail, e-mail or voice mail.

City leaders say they might take up the issue soon after the debate period is over.