The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a
bill which seeks to end workplace discrimination based on sexual
orientation and gender identity.
Ten Republicans, including Arizona
Senator John McCain, joined 54 Democrats – all but one: Bob Casey
of Pennsylvania, who was not present but has previously supported the
measure – to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican
from Maine, told Senate colleagues that ENDA was “about fairness
and workplace equality.”
Senators voted down an amendment
introduced by Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania,
which sought to expand the bill's religious exemptions. Members
rejected the amendment with a 43-55 vote.
Senator Jeff Merkley, the bill's
Democratic champion in the Senate, rose to thank the various groups
and individuals who made Thursday's vote possible. He called it a
vote “for a fairer and just America.”
Republicans who voted in favor of ENDA
were Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa
Murkowsi of Alaska, Dean Heller of Nevada, Kelly Ayotte of New
Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, Jeff Flake of Arizona, John McCain of
Arizona, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
The legislation looks to be
dead-on-arrival in the House after Speaker John Boehner, a Republican
from Ohio, reiterated his opposition.
Boehner “believes this legislation
will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially
small business jobs,” a spokesman said Monday.
On Sunday, President
Barack Obama called on Congress to approve ENDA.