Bill on Workplace Bias Appears Set to Clear Senate Hurdle
WASHINGTON — A measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to federal nondiscrimination law has gained its 60th supporter in the Senate, giving it what appears to be a filibuster-proof majority as a key vote looms.
Senator Dean Heller, Republican of Nevada, announced Monday that he would vote yes on the bill, known as the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, saying that after conversations with voters at home and colleagues in the Senate, he had come to the determination that “supporting this legislation is the right thing to do.”
The Senate is expected to hold a vote Monday or Tuesday to open debate on the bill, marking the first time since 1996 that a measure granting workplace legal protection to gay men and lesbians has come before the full Senate. It will be the first time that the full Senate has considered a measure that includes protection for transgender people.
Since all 55 members of the Democratic majority had said they would vote for the bill, along with four Republicans who had also expressed support, gay rights advocates and sponsors in the Senate had been waiting for one more Republican to give them the 60th vote they would need to open debate.
Because of opposition in the Republican-controlled House, passage there seems unlikely. Speaker John A. Boehner reiterated his objections to the bill on Monday, releasing a statement that said he believed it would invite too many lawsuits.
29 States where you can be fired for being gay:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming
Sadly, in 2013 it is still legal to discriminate against homosexuals in employment in many states. Unless it is made illegal to do so, many will be discriminated against. There are few things as fundamental as one's need to earn a living, and one's sexual orientation. When that orientation can lead to loss of employment or failure to obtain employment, then it is necessary to pass legislation to prevent that from happening.
Will Boehner at least have the balls to bring it to a vote?