Fairbanks, Alaska Mayor Jim Matherly, a Republican, on Friday vetoed an LGBT protections bill approved by the city council.

Council members on Monday voted 4-2 in favor of an ordinance (Ordinance 6093) that sought to extend protections in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I do not take this action lightly,” Matherly wrote in a letter to residents. “I became a sponsor of Ordinance 6093 because I believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, and the concept behind this Ordinance is sound. As with most concepts, the details become challenging when they affect so many people with different priorities and opinions.”

According to NBC News, three Alaska cities – Anchorage, Juneau and Sitka – have LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination laws on the books.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the city council has 14 days to override Matherly's veto, but it needs five votes to do so.

Matherly said that he had made his decision “after much soul searching, research, and examination of all facets of the issues.”

He also said that he wants to put the issue before voters in October.

“I believe this question should be given to City residents that choose to exercise their voting rights,” he wrote. “This ordinance is bigger than a Mayor and six Council Members, and the decision needs to be in the hands of the voters of Fairbanks.”

Last year, voters in Anchorage voted to keep a similar law.

Lillian Lemon, who campaigned in favor of Anchorage's measure, called Matherly's decision “spineless.”

“Mayor Matherly made a spineless decision today to stand in the way of democracy and in the way of basic human rights,” Lemon told NBC News. “Regardless, we will make sure that when this issue reaches the ballot, we [will] continue to stand with the people of Fairbanks for equality and make sure Mayor Matherly knows that he made the wrong decision.”