HOUSTON After a long and emotional debate, Houston City Council is scheduled to vote today on Mayor Annise Parker s proposed equal rights ordinance.

The city council was orignally scheduled to vote on the ordinance two weeks ago, but ultimately chose to postpone any action until May 28, so that the public could provide more input.

Parker and other supporters want to ban discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, age, religion, disability and for an array of other categories, even obscure ones such as discrimination based on one's genetic composition. Federal law already bans discriminatory practices in many of the categories.

Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

On Wednesday afternoon, the council chamber was packed for what s become a debate on equal rights for gays and transgendered Houstonians.

More than 250 citizens signed up to speak at a city council meeting that may last into the night.

The mayor apparently has enough votes to pass her ordinance, but opponents vow to put it on the ballot for a referendum.

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