Employee Non-Discrimination Act got over 60 votes on Monday evening, meaning that the bill will now advance towards a final vote. The measure, which would make it illegal for workplaces to discriminate against an employee on the basis of their sexual or gender orientation, had to gain 60 votes instead of a simple majority in order to overcome a likely filibuster by some Republicans. The bill, however, will almost certainly not make it through the House, if it gets final passage in the Senate.
Even so, the measure gained some rather visible support from moderate Republicans in Congress, grabbing a procedural "yes" vote from the previously undeclared Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Republican Senator Rob Portman cast the 60th vote on Monday (the final tally was 61 - 30, in favor of moving to debate). From some reports, it looks like at least Ayotte and Portman were swayed to vote for the measure with a promise of "tweaks" to religious exemptions in the bill. Republican Senators Kirk, Toomey, Hatch, Collins, Heller, and Kirk also voted for the bill.
Senator Mark Kirk even took to the Senate floor to deliver his first speech since suffering a stroke last year. As his vote indicated, his speech was in favor of ENDA (video via Roll Call):
As we outlined earlier today, social conservatives have floated a number of apocalyptic scenarios should the bill pass, up to and including the end of freedom. But the measure has wide support across the U.S., with a majority of support in every American state. The bill has popped up in 10 Congresses before this one, with its earliest iteration going back to the mid-'70s.
Shortly after the vote, the White House released a statement praising the procedural vote to move forward with ENDA:
The President welcomes the Senate’s bipartisan first step towards final passage of S. 815, the Employment Non‑Discrimination Act of
2013. He has long supported an inclusive ENDA, which would establish lasting and comprehensive Federal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. He thanks the lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood up for America’s core values of fairness and equality, and looks forward to the Senate’s consideration of ENDA. He also encourages lawmakers to ensure that the legislation remains true to its goals as it is considered.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.