02/14/2014 03:14 pm ET Updated Feb 15, 2014

Fla. Mayor Who Supported Ban On Homeless People's Sleeping Bags Changes Mind After Praying

Spencer Platt via Getty Images

A city ordinance in Pensacola, Fla., that bans homeless people from staying "adjacent to or inside a tent or sleeping bag," is one step closer to being repealed after widespread criticism.

As citizens of the Sunshine State grapple with unusually cold temperatures, many say the ordinance prioritizes appearances over basic decency. According to city documents from 2013, the legislation was enacted to preserve the "aesthetics, sanitation, public health, and safety of its citizens."

The backlash hasn't gone unnoticed. Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward -- who previously backed the ordinance -- recently reversed his position, according to the Pensacola News Journal. Hayward attributed his change of heart to time spent "reflecting and praying."

A Pensacola City Council vote to repeal the so-called "blanket ban" passed unanimously on Feb. 13, according to the outlet, but a second vote is necessary later this month before the repeal can go into effect.

Several Twitter users spoke out against the ordinance this week:

A petition gathered tens of thousands of signatures in disapproval of the ban, and encouraged petitioners to email Mayor Hayward and the city council in protest.



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