The U.S. Senate advanced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) yesterday, with a critical supermajority vote of 61 to 30. Despite ENDA’s bleak future in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, the Senate cloture vote marks a triumph for supporters of LGBT rights. The landmark legislation would ban workplace harassment and job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
A margin of 61 to 30 effectively ensures the bill’s passage in the Senate, after a final vote expected this week.
“With a supermajority of Senators, more than 100 major American companies, and more than two-thirds of Americans all standing proudly in support of ENDA, there is tremendous momentum behind this common-sense bill,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement after the Senate’s vote.
ENDA cleared 60 Senate votes, which is the number required to avoid a filibuster, after Dean Heller (R-Nev.) endorsed the bill. A total of seven GOP senators voted in favor of proceeding with the legislation, including Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), both co-sponsors of ENDA.
While President Obama supports ENDA and has urged Congress to pass the bill, it is unlikely to advance in the House of Representatives. Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has already indicated his opposition. But the fight will continue to make ENDA the law of the land. As Griffin stated, “ENDA’s time has come, and we’re not going to stop fighting until it is passed once and for all.”