Manhattan, Kan., the home of Kansas State University, is one step closer to approving special protections for the gay and transgendered community. If the measure is passed, the law would be the strictest in the nation.
Many of the city's Christian leaders believe they are in a fight for the soul of their community.
Christians gathered Wednesday in Manhattan, nicknamed The Little Apple in 1977, in opposition to the proposed anti-gay discrimination law.
"We conclude that creating protected classes in an anti-discrimination ordinance for self-selected behaviors and personally chosen identities would be bad law," local church pastors wrote in a letter to Mayor Bruce Snead. "We unite in concern that such an ordinance might silence individual Christians in response to the acceptance or practice of immorality when their silence would indicate consent."
Darrell Martin, pastor of the Manhattan Christian Fellowship Church, organized the rally. He said the city's decision will effect generations to come.
"We want our commissioners to know that there are a number of people in our city who oppose this proposal -- to really consider the ordinance and not pass it," Martin said.
The ordinance would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
What makes the ordinance extreme is that it would include a gender identity classification -- which has yet to be defined by the city council. The law, for example, would make it illegal for an employer to fire a male sales executive with a beard wearing a dress and high heals.
While the Awaken Manhattan group met in opposition to the ordinance, two floors below, Stop the Hate, a counter rally, took place in the Kansas State Union Courtyard.
"I believe the other perspective is a valid opinion," said Dusty Garner, who attended the Stop the Hate rally. "They have the right to express that opinion. What I am more concerned about is that that opinion has aligned itself with the Family Research Council, which has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and that is more disturbing than anything." Click here for the Family Research Council's response to this charge by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Yet, organizations like the Kansas Family Policy Council and Kansas State University student Brent Pinkall said their opposition isn't about hate, but about standing strong on biblical principals.
For years Pinkall said he was trapped in the homosexual lifestyle, but through a new relationship with Jesus Christ he now challenges Christians to speak with compassion toward homosexuals.
"The freedom the Gospel offers is that Christ died so that we might have his righteousness," Pinkall said. "God would count us as His children, sinless. That is the freedom message we need to extend to the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community."
A draft of the measure's proposal will be reviewed Dec. 7 and city commissioners are scheduled to vote on the new ordinance Dec. 21.