Opponents of gay rights in Kalamazoo, Michigan have submitted a petition to force a vote to repeal a gay protections ordinance passed by city leaders in June, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

The city ordinance makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of housing, public accommodations and employment.

Lawmakers have unanimously approved the bill twice. Last January leaders were forced to rescind a similar measure after a local chapter of the American Family Association (AFA) submitted sufficient signatures to suspend the law until commissioners voted to repeal it or voters decided its future.

The group Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights say they submitted 2,088 signatures on Wednesday, 60% more than the 1,273 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the ballot box, leaving little doubt opponents have managed to forced a vote on the issue.

“As soon as I verify or validate the petitions, from that moment … the ordinance is suspended,” Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling told the paper.

City leaders wrestled for months with the legislation before approving the measure. They listened to often heated testimony from hundreds of citizens during public hearings.

Despite the law's exemptions for churches, opponents roundly denounced it as an attempt to discriminate against religious groups.

“No religious person should be indicted for living out his protected religious convictions,” Mary Balkema, of the Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination, said in March.

“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,” she added.

Fifteen Michigan municipalities currently ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.