On the night before city council members were expected to vote on the highly controversial non-discrimination ordinance, or NDO, 729 people registered to speak in council chambers during Wednesday's Citizens To Be Heard session.
Like last week's session, council chambers were at capacity with both the upper and lower levels full as well as two overflow rooms.
Unlike last week, more than 200 additional people signed up to speak. As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, 112 of 729 had spoken. The session began at 6 p.m.
The NDO adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes. Those who support the ordinance say it grant the LGBTQ community the rights they deserve.
Those who oppose it argue it would discriminate against people who disagree with the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community by prohibiting them from expressing their beliefs.
Here is a sampling of comments from Wednesday's public comment:
"Religious liberty is civil liberty and religious rights are civil rights as well," said a man who opposes the NDO. "Your ordinance sets up an unnecessary conflict between people who don't want to be beat up because they're homosexuals. That's already against the law. It needs to be against the law and needs to be enforced."
"Denying someone housing because they have two lesbian moms or refuse to serve them a hot meal in your restaurant because of their perceived gender identity... if that is the way they want to express their religion and that's what their God says, I hope they take an opportunity to meet mine who is much more loving and understanding," said an NDO supporter.
Another supporter said, "we are all here for a reason. We all have something to learn from each other. We all deserve justice and respect. I urge you to pass the non-discrimination ordinance."
"Please vote intelligently on this ordinance and vote no," said a woman who opposes NDO. "The chants we are hearing outside are symbolic of the attempt to silence our freedom of speech. cheers."
Supporters of the ordinance chanted for hours outside council chambers, at points walking in circles around the building.