The Metro Nashville Council has approved on second reading a bill that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity by the Metro government, The Tennessean reported.

Metro Nashville is the governing body of the City of Nashville and Davidson County. The pair merged in 1963.

Councilmembers voted 23 to 16 in favor of the measure on the bill's second reading, making passage an almost – but not quite – foregone conclusion. Metro Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has said he supports the measure.

Against the bill are the usual suspects, including James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, called Councilwoman Megan Barry's proposal an affront to religious liberties.

Fowler goes so far as to champion discrimination against gay men and lesbians: “We 'discriminate' all the time when making a decision, and in some contexts having a 'discriminating' eye or taste can be a positive thing, for example with artists and stylists and interior decorators.”

“What makes discrimination 'bad' is determined by the consideration used to draw a distinction between two or more sets of ideas, types of people, attitudes, and about anything you can think of,” he says at the group's website.

“[I]n this context, if one is going to deny or disagree with the proposition that there [is] a God-ordained distinction between the sexes and a purpose and context for the expression of sexual intimacy, then in our form of government the prevailing view in society should not be subjugated to that of the majority.”

In voting against the measure, Councilman Jim Hodge compared being gay to an addiction or a bad habit.

“For those constituents and members of our community who are in the homosexual community, who have sat at my dining room table, who have had conservations with me, I cannot support or endorse a lifestyle that is unhealthy,” Hodge told the council.

“We ask folks to leave their cigarettes outside. As a guy who's smoked for 20 years, I know how hard that is to do. But I have to make a choice and it was a hard choice. It was hard to do. Some of us have been on diets like Councilman Forkum and me last year so our joints would work. It's not easy to make a lifestyle change but it can be done.”

The measure, which would only protect Metro Nashville government workers, faces a final vote on Sept. 1.