Oklahoma City passed a housing non-discrimination ordinance which would make it illegal to deny housing to LGBT people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Oklahoma TV station KFOR reported Tuesday.
The law, which goes into effect next month, makes it illegal to deny rental housing, prevent the sale of a house or refuse to build a home for someone due to sexual orientation of gender identity. The law also protects residents from discrimination on the basis of familial status, disability, race, color, sex, religion, creed, ancestry or national origin, according to the station.
Debate over the ordinance became heated, according to KFOR, before the council voted 5 to 4 in favor. One city councilman, Mark Stonecipher, vocally opposed the amendment wondering aloud if discrimination against LGBT people actually existed in the housing sector.
"Through HUD and the civil rights division of the attorney general's office, there should be complaints that are being filed and there should be empirical evidence of whether we know the answer to that and I don't think we have that," he told the station.
Resident Cindy Cason said her gay son has experienced housing discrimination. She cried while testifying before the council: "Our children need the protections in whatever form you can offer them," she said.
Stonecipher expressed fear that the law might interfere with religious freedom. "I want to make sure that we are putting something on the book that doesn't have constitutional implications that may affect the right to contract, freedom of religion, or may affect freedom of speech," he said.
Cities across the country including Houston, which recently lost its battle for a non-discrimination ordinance, often face challenges from conservatives who claim protecting the rights of LGBT citizens interferes with personal liberties.
Still, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett voted for the ordinance. "I just think discrimination is wrong and to a certain extent this has to do with the image of the city," he told the station, "Are we a city that's accepting, a city that's open-minded? I believe we are."
Watch the report from KFOR on the housing ordinance: