Senate Approves ENDA, Adding Sexual Orientation To Work Protections

The Senate has approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which gives workplace protections to workers and job applicants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The bill would apply to any private employer that has more than 15 employees; it includes an exemption for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.

The bill, widely referred to as ENDA, was introduced with the support of a bipartisan group, including Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

“Everyone, gay or straight, should have the right to work hard and earn a living,” Sen. Merkley said in a statement issued after Monday’s cloture vote. “Unfortunately, in 29 states you can still be fired for who you are and who you love. That is just plain wrong.”

ENDA is not expected to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner has voiced his opposition to the measure.

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