Voters of Gainesville, Florida will decide the fate of the city's decade-old gay protections ordinance today.

Gay rights opponents proposed eliminating the city's protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in January 2008 when city leaders added “gender identity” to the list of classes protected under the law in the areas of housing, employment and public accommodation.

Members of the Citizens for Good Public Policy argue that the gender clause allows men to enter women's restrooms, endangering women and children.

“To us public safety is the highest public policy priority and the city left us no option but to do it this way,” Mark Minck, the chair of Citizens for Good Public Policy, the group behind the initiative, told The Gainesville Sun.

A similar argument is being echoed throughout the U.S. as municipalities and states look to protect transgender people.

“This is a bill that begins to confuse the gender differences between men and women to the point of trying to allow men to use women's restrooms, and, of course, that means sexual predators going after young children,” Tom Minnery, senior vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family Action, said in a radio message urging North Dakota voters to oppose a similar measure.

Both sides in the Gainesville fight have mounted heated campaigns. Citizens for Good Public Policy says is has collected more than $40,000 to repeal the anti-discrimination protections.

“The honest story about this is that it is all rooted in bigotry, prejudice and animus towards our gay and lesbian community in the state of Florida,” Howard Simon, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, told the paper. “If this ordinance were repealed, it would be perfectly legal in Gainesville to fire someone from a job, to kick someone out of rental housing, to deny someone service simply because the owner does not like the idea that someone is gay.”

A bill before the Florida Legislature would offer similar protections as the Gainesville ordinance, but activists say passage remains iffy.

Today's vote is expected to be close.