After a heated six hour debate on the issue, the Goshen, Indiana City Council voted last week against altering its civil rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (transgender protections), local broadcaster WSBT reported.

The meeting's venue was moved to the local high school to accommodate an anxious crowd of 150 residents and extra police protection was provided.

Councilmember Chic Lantz, an original co-sponsor of the ordinance, altered her vote to defeat the measure in a 4 to 3 vote. Lantz said she feared the measure would become the subject of a lawsuit.

“I don't want Goshen to have to go through that,” Lantz said.

At least one attorney from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund testified at the hearing. Former area resident Glen Lavy is a senior counselor at the group that is defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in California and has sued against a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law in Cleveland, Ohio.

“This newly proposed ordinance has not passed public scrutiny and caters to political special interests,” Lavy said in a statement before testifying. “Laws should protect rights, not grant special privileges based strictly on someone's sexual confusion. The City of Goshen should not enact laws that reduce safety for women and children in public areas and also open up another avenue for attacks on marriage.”

Lavy was referring to the conservative argument that transgender protections would allow sexual predators to stake out public restrooms. Opponents in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and North Dakota have dubbed similar efforts “bathroom bills” and urged lawmakers to flush them down the toilet.

“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.

Opponents in Goshen say they oppose the plan on religious grounds.

“By its very nature, homosexual actions are intrinsically evil,” said Goshen resident Robert Roeder. “This is not to say that all homosexuals are evil. We all suffer temptation.”

Opponents of similar measures in other cities have loudly protested the bills.

City leaders in Anchorage, Alaska passed a gay protections bill last month, only to have it axed by the mayor. After seeing the firestorm of protest the measure sparked, councilmembers decided against attempting to overturn the mayor's veto. Opponents in Kalamazoo, Michigan have successfully campaigned to put a similar measure approved by councilmembers up for a public vote.

Supporters in Goshen, however, say the fight is far from over.

“This isn't a dead issue for me,” Jeremy Stutsman, who sponsored the bill, said. “It's going to come back.”