Religious leaders in Nashville, Tennessee are divided on a plan to extend the city's gay protections to contractors.

In 2009, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean signed into law a bill that bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the Metro government. Metro Nashville is the governing body of the City of Nashville and Davidson County. The pair merged in 1963.

The Metro Council is now considering requiring companies that do business with the city to adopt a similar nondiscrimination policy.

The proposed measure received its second okay last month. A third and final vote is scheduled for Tuesday, but Councilman Mike Jameson, a co-sponsor of the legislation, is expected to ask for a one-meeting delay.

In a letter to the council's leaders, three Southern Baptist leaders condemned the proposal, The Tennessean reported.

“It is clear that imposing this ordinance could lead to disastrous moral and ethical conflicts including trampling on the conscience protections of many residents of the Metro area,” wrote Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Randy Davis, executive director and treasurer of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, and Robert B. Sumrall Jr., executive director of the Nashville Baptist Association.

The measure “would elevate sexual orientation and gender identity to the same level as such immutable characteristics as race, ethnicity and religion, creating a preferential status not enjoyed by other others.”

In a separate letter, more than 20 clergy members, mostly Methodists, called on the council to approve the measure.

"As clergy leaders, we are called to speak out for and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ," they wrote. "This Gospel was, is and will continue to be a message of a community (or in the words of Scripture, Kingdom) that creates space for humanity and all of Creation to realize their full potential. … This Gospel calls us to defend the 'outsiders' and speak against the status quo that seeks to do harm."