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Phoenix expects huge turnout for anti-discrimination policy hearing

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Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says revisions to the city's Human Relations Ordinance that would add sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination policy will open doors to new businesses in Phoenix. (Source: CBS 5 News) Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says revisions to the city's Human Relations Ordinance that would add sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination policy will open doors to new businesses in Phoenix. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Aaron Baer, of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, says the policy changes would infringe on the religious freedoms of Phoenix residents. (Source: CBS 5 News) Aaron Baer, of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, says the policy changes would infringe on the religious freedoms of Phoenix residents. (Source: CBS 5 News)
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PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

The Phoenix City Council is giving the public a chance to weigh-in on proposed revisions to the city's Human Relations Ordinance that would add sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination policy.

It is also anticipating a large turnout and heated discussion when it meets at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Orpheum Theater to discuss the proposal intended to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents.

"We have an existing ordinance on nondiscrimination that protects people against discrimination based on gender, based on national origin, based on religion - all the things that we believe in," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton told CBS 5 News. "This would simply add LGBT to our non-discrimination ordinances."

It's the "T" in LGBT that is of particular concern for the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative Christian group.

The CAP's website refers to the city's Human Relations Ordinance as "The Bathroom Bill" – with the proposed changes "opening doors for grown men to share bathrooms with little girls."

"It's that instance where, if a man decides he's a woman, he can follow your young girl, your wife - into the woman's restroom," Aaron Baer, CAP's communications director, said Thursday.

Baer said the ordinance change would result in frivolous lawsuits, a belief voiced in an email from City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who wrote the ordinance "will subject every single business in Phoenix with criminal penalties and open the door to civil litigation."

"This isn't an issue of discrimination," Baer said Monday. "This is really an issue of one, protecting family, and two, protecting the religious freedom of everyone who lives in Phoenix."

The change would also add gender identity and disabilities to the ordinance.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix also opposes the ordinance change.

A statement released Monday by the diocese said Catholic leadership in the Phoenix metropolitan area condemns any hostility toward gay residents.

But the diocese said it believes the city's proposal is "so broadly worded that it risks trampling the religious liberties of Phoenix citizens for doing nothing more than living their faith."

Supporters say the changes are similar to non-discrimination laws adopted by at least 166 other cities and counties across the country, including Tucson, Flagstaff and Salt Lake City.

The changes would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, such as restaurants and hotels. 

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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