U.S. Senate poised to approve ENDA today

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

If everything goes as planned, gay rights history will be made on Thursday in the Senate. Gay rights bill poised for final Senate vote – Politico:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday set up the the final series of votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — culminating in a vote final passage on Thursday afternoon if the bill passes a key, 60-vote threshold procedural test in the morning.

Senate passage of ENDA seemed more and more likely Wednesday after the Senate unanimously accepted an amendment by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) protecting religious groups exempted under the legislation from government retaliation. That amendment likely secured the vote of several other Republicans pushing for that language, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

[“Asked whether he would vote for the bill, Sen. John McCain
(R., Ariz.) said ‘yes,’ then added
in a brief interview, ‘If we get the amendments worked out,’” according
to an early morning AP report
:

McCain was a co-sponsor of the Portman-Ayotte amendment.
The Senate plans to vote Thursday on an amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey
(R., Pa.) to expand the number of groups that are covered under the
religious exemption.]

“People should be judged by their experience, their qualifications, and their job performance, and not by their sexual orientation. Someone should not be able to be fired just because he or she is gay,” Portman said on the floor Wednesday. “We must make certain that in pursuit of enforcing non-discrimination, those religious employers are not subject to a different form of discrimination—government retaliation.”

No Republican came to the Senate floor on Wednesday to speak against ENDA, though 30 GOP lawmakers voted against the bill during the first procedural vote Monday.

The Senate will also consider on Thursday the only other amendment to the bill that will get a vote: a proposal from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would increase the number of groups that can exempted from ENDA. Toomey’s amendment is set at a 60-vote threshold and does not appear to have the same level of support that the Portman-Ayotte amendment enjoyed.

It has taken years for ENDA to break through in the Senate. The bill was long championed by former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who urged Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to pick up where he left off and push the bill to the final passage that Kennedy never saw.

Time to call your Arizona Senators and tell them to vote for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA).

Senator John McCain

Washington D.C. Main: (202) 224-2235
                            Fax: (202) 228-2862

Phoenix Main: (602) 952-2410
               Fax: (602) 952-8702

Tucson Main: (520) 670-6334
             Fax: (520) 670-6637

Senator Jeff Flake

Washington D.C. Main: (202) 224-4521
                            FAX: (202) 228-0515

Phoenix Main: (602) 840-1891
              FAX: (602) 840-4092

Tucson Main: (520) 575-8633
               FAX: 520-797-3232

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