The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate today, with 64 senators voting in favor. ENDA was first introduced 20 years ago, and this is the first time it has passed the Senate. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) proposed the version that advanced Thursday. Its prospects are more unclear in the House, where observers such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) think there are enough votes to pass the legislation if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were to allow it to come to a vote. He has expressed opposition to the bill, so it may not be brought up.
ENDA would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Currently, 29 states allow workers to be fired for being gay and 33 allow workers to be fired for being transgender.
Every Democrat and Independent member of the Senate voted yes on the vote. They were joined by 10 Republicans: Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
UFCW Local 1546 represents workers in Illinois and Indiana in a diverse range of industries including grocery and drug retailers; meat cutting, processing, and packing; chemical works; nursing home and healthcare facilities, and many others.