A bill which seeks to prohibit
workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity cleared a Senate panel on Wednesday morning.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act
(ENDA) cleared the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Employment
Committee with the help of three Republican members: Senators Mark
Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Kirk and Murkowski are among the Senate's three members who have
endorsed gay marriage.
The panel's 12 Democrats also voted for
the measure, which cleared the committee on a 15-7 vote.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, the bill's
chief sponsor in the Senate, cheered the bill's passage.
“All Americans deserve the right to
work hard and earn a living,” Merkley said in a statement. “It
is fundamentally inconsistent with our American values that in 29
states you can still be fired for who you are and whom you love.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
supports a full vote on the Senate floor.