More cities are considering adding transgender protections in the wake of a critical vote in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

On November 3, Kalamazoo voters disagreed with opponents of the ordinance that makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections) in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations. The group Kalamazoo Citizens Voting No to Special Rights, backed by the anti-gay Christian group American Family Association (AFA), organized to put the policy up for a vote after lawmakers expanded it to include transgender protections.

In cities throughout the country opponents have vociferously attacked laws that protect gay men and lesbians from discrimination on the local level. But the loudest howls heard this year came when lawmakers included transgender protections.

In Anchorage, Alaska hundreds of people piled into City Hall at the behest of socially conservative leaders to testify against a gay protections bill in June. The debate drew hundreds on both sides to protest. Roiled gay rights foes threatened to put the measure up for a vote if approved. In the end, Republican Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed the bill.

November's Kalamazoo victory built on another decisive win in another small town in Florida.

Voters in the college town of Gainesville spurned an initiative that would have repealed the city's decade-old gay protections ordinance in March. The ordinance was put up for a vote after city leaders added transgender protections to the law. Members of Citizens for Good Public Policy argued that the gender clause allows men to enter women's restrooms, endangering women and children. Alex Harper, a 21-year-old West Palm Beach student, told the AP that he viewed the restroom issue as “conservative propaganda.”

Momentum continued this week when the city of Fort Worth, Texas approved adding gender identity to the city's list of protected classes. And in Utah, Salt Lake City leaders unanimously approved a protections bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Both cities acted on Tuesday.

The wins heartened gay rights activists who have gained little traction in such red meat states. Salt Lake City's measure was unanimously approved by council members after the Mormon Church endorsed the proposal – the first time the church has publicly backed gay rights.

At least two more cities are considering expanding their policies to include transgender protections.

In Cleveland, gay rights group Ask Cleveland is lobbying to win approval of such a measure. The group delivered more than 2,500 postcards supporting an expanded law to council members on Monday. The bill is sponsored by openly gay, outgoing Council member Joe Santiago.

City leaders are expected to vote on the bill later this month. But Ask Cleveland spokesman David Caldwell would not comment on its chances of passage.

“We're working hard to earn the votes necessary to ensure victory,” Caldwell said. Most councilors were undecided but willing to meet with the group, he said.

Cleveland's Democratically-controlled council divides on gay rights mostly along racial lines. A recently approved gay-inclusive domestic partnership law was voted down by most of the chamber's African-American members. In the campaign to approve the law, a group of mostly Black ministers rallied to oppose its passage, saying it violates Ohio's 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban.

Ask Cleveland said it was focusing its lobbying efforts on members who voted against the registry.

In Tampa, Florida, passage appears more certain, but opponents have only just begun to mobilize. A November 5 first reading of a transgender protections bill won unanimous approval after Council member Joseph Caetano altered his original no vote. Final passage is expected during a November 19th meeting.

Shortly after leaders acted on the measure, the conservative group Christian Issues Council alerted members to take action against the measure.

“Please stop this assault on Christian values!” Terry Kemple wrote in an email. “If the City Council hears a loud voice from the Church, they'll think twice and we may actually defeat this proposal. If they don't hear from us, be ready to lose a few more of the religious freedoms our country was established to protect.”

The group says it opposes the legislation because “people who dress like the opposite sex will be allowed into the restroom of the gender they feel like today” and “special privileges will be granted because of a person's aberrant sexual behavior.”

Gay groups lobbying for the measure include Pride Tampa Bay, Equality Florida and Organizations United Together (OUT).

“In 38 states it's legal to fire otherwise qualified employees because of their gender identity or expression,” R. Zeke Fread, director of Pride Tampa Bay, said in an email.

“By adding gender identity and expression [to the list of protected classes] our council members are sending a clear and strong message that discrimination in the workplace, accommodations and housing is not acceptable in our city,” he added.