Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 26, 2015

Senate Passes Gay Employment Rights Bill

In 2010, activists were arrested for staging a sit-in designed to pressure Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Three years later, the Senate passed it. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In 2010, gay rights activists were arrested for staging a sit-in designed to pressure Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Three years later, the Senate passed it. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate on Thursday approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a tempered win for gay rights advocates who still need a reluctant, GOP-controlled House to take up and pass the bill.

In a bipartisan vote, 64 senators supported the ENDA legislation, championed in the Senate by Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon. The bill, if it were to become law, would set a federal non-discrimination standard to ensure that private employers cannot fire employees based on their sexual orientation or identity.

Ten Republicans joined all Democrats to pass the gay rights bill, while 32 Republicans voted against the measure. Few opponents rose to speak against the bill, however. As of Wednesday evening, no one had risen to speak in opposition. Sen. Dan Coats was the first to do so on Thursday morning. He raised concerns about protections for religious institutions who believe same sex relationships are sinful.

Republicans voting for the bill included Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio and John McCain of Arizona.

This year has been a significant one for gay rights advocates, as the Supreme Court reversed the Defense of Marriage Act — meaning that a marriage certificate for a gay couple in one state must be recognized in all — and several more states have passed gay marriage measures.

The future prospects for ENDA, however, appear dim. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, opposes the bill, even as he faces some pressure to bring it to the floor. Meanwhile Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., the 2012 vice presidential nominee, has expressed an openness to supporting some non-discrimination legislation.

Currently, 21 states have such protections on the books. Religious organizations are exempt from the potential law in language similar to that found in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The best moments from the Senate’s ENDA debate can we viewed here.

  • truthseeker53

    More trouble for businesses. Hope the House kills it.

    • tomwest

      Trouble? All businesses have to do is… nothing. They have to *not* discriminate against people of the basis of their sexuality… and if the simply decide to *not* ask, then it’s simple.

      • truthseeker53

        Got nothing to do with asking. It’s about being forced to hire an obvious liability. Something you likely can’t or refuse to understand.

        • tomwest

          If you don’t ask, then you can’t know, and you can’t discriminate. Or do you have some other magical means of knowing whether someone’s gay during a job interview?

          • truthseeker53

            It’s called discernment and perception.

        • papal

          You hit the nail on the head.

  • godblessusa

    Once again, ANOTHER bipartisan bill clears the senate and heads to the House…where the GOP neanderthal knuckle-draggers will do absolutely nothing. Which is what they do so well.

  • migtex1234

    another HUGE COST to citizens for WHAT ! TO encourage more diviant behavior.
    If they are not stopped, everyone will be forced into the gay agenda, which benefits no one. No matter how strange the behavior, they will be able to get away with everything against regular family values.

  • SC

    This was pure political pandering from a body of individuals who ought to know better. There is no need for special additional laws for gays. Just enforce the ones on the books as they ought to be. If this crazy fixation on one groups sexual identity as a special class of people doesn’t stop, were going to need more laws to protect those who don’t believe in gay marriage from the hate speech and malicious actions aimed at them! Just read the vitriolic and hateful comment threads aimed at anyone who dares to say anything that doesn’t fully endorse gay lifestyles.

  • Friv Jogos

    Glad to visit your blog. Thanks for this great post that you share to us.

  • Richard Grayson

    Hey you bigot commenters, we’re gonna trick your trucking tresses!

  • papal

    Don’t these DC bozos have any thing else to do. Well I’m hoping the House finds some serious pressing issues to work on.

  • Anonymous

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