The New Hampshire House has reversed itself to approve transgender protections, reports the Concord Monitor.

House members rejected a bill last month that protects transgender people from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations after members were swayed by a “public safety” argument.

But Wednesday, the House reversed itself, passing the bill by the slimmest of margins: 188 to 187.

House Speaker Terie Norelli, a Democrat from Rockingham, urged members to reconsider. They agreed after a three hour debate and sent the bill to the Senate. Openly gay Rep. Edward Butler introduced the legislation on January 8. It moved out of committee on March 19 with no recommendation.

Opponents of the bill, Republicans mostly, called it the “bathroom bill” and asked it be flushed down the drain.

“This is an invitation, it seems to me, for people with predatory tendencies to come and hide behind the fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep. Peyton Hinkle, a Republican from Merrimack, said on the floor last month.

Mount Vernon Republican William O'Brien called the bill “dangerous.”

“This seeks to elevate nebulous groups to the sacred level we find in racial discrimination,” he said. “This bill is not needed. It's dangerous.”

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 transgender protections bill. Last week, the House moved against passage.

But in the college town of Gainesville, Florida voters rejected a proposed initiative to eliminate all gay protections after city leaders added “gender identity” to the list of classes protected from discrimination. Members of the Citizens for Good Public Policy argued that the gender clause allows men to enter women's restrooms, endangering women and children. Voters disagreed by a large majority (58%).

Debate outside the New Hampshire Capitol has also been heated. Family Research Council, the Tony Perkins-led social conservative group, ran an advertisement in the local media threatening lawmakers who vote in favor of the legislation.

The ad featured a Post-It Note scribbled with the words “YOU ARE FIRED,” and urged residents to contact legislators to vote against gay rights legislation, including a gay marriage bill and the transgender protections bill.

“We're not asking you to open bathrooms to sexual predators. We're asking you to stand tall against discrimination,” argued Norelli.

“The reason for withholding these protections from transgenders is, what? Fear?,” Butler, an innkeeper by trade, asked. “Transgenders are not a threat to our society or our way of life. They are not sick. They are simply different.”

Legislators say they have been inundated with vehement opposition to the bill. One anonymous emailer wrote: “How are we suppose to take our children into public bathrooms if you pass this indecent legislation? ... or protect them from the perverted predations of this bill's sponsors? ... [W]e are not being served by representatives, but being ruled by misfits, perverts and tyrants.”

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are also considering similar legislation.