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.