Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) today. Senate approves historic gay rights bill:
The Senate passed historic gay rights legislation Thursday to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, another victory for the gay rights movement that has been gaining favor in the courts and electoral politics.
Senators voted 64 to 32 to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
The vote marked the first time lawmakers had approved legislation to advance gay rights since repealing the military’s ban on gay men and lesbians in uniform in late 2010 and came two days after Illinois became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Just four months ago the U.S. Supreme Court sanctioned federal recognition of legally married gay couples.
“Let freedom ring,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the bill’s chief sponsor, said shortly before the vote.
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In a sign of rapidly shifting opinions on gay rights, every member of the Senate Democratic caucus was joined by 10 Republican senators to approve the measure. The first time the Senate voted on a measure similar to ENDA, in 1996, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) voted no. On Thursday they voted yes.
“This is the right thing to do,” McCain told reporters shortly before he cast his vote.
House Speaker John A. Boehner’s opposition to ENDA prompted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to suggest that supporters would mount a public pressure campaign similar to one used to ensure the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act this year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid also bemoaned Boehner’s resistance to the legislation Thursday morning, predicting that it would “pass by a nice margin in the House if the speaker would allow a vote.”
For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans. Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.
Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago. In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives. This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.
One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do. Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.