Commissioners in Hillsborough County, Florida, voted unanimously to prepare an amending law banning discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.
The motion was introduced by Kevin Beckner, the county's first openly gay commissioner, and approved 7-0.
No mention of exemptions for faith groups was included in the amendment. Consequently, opponents are concerned the ban will open the door to religious discrimination.
"If you pass this measure, it will result of discrimination against Christians and other people of faith and deeply held moral convictions who believe that homosexual behavior is not normal and violates God's moral plan," one man testified before the commissioners.
Christian leaders in San Antonio and Houston, Texas, are also concerned their religious rights will be violated after similar anti-discrimination bans in their cities.
Currently, 21 states and Washington, D.C., prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Also, 16 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity.