Thursday the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA, in a bipartisan vote for the law which is, according to POLITICO, “landmark civil rights legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals in the workplace.” Joining with the Democrats were 10 Republicans, bringing the final “yes” vote to 64, more than enough to defeat a filibuster by those in the GOP opposed to the law.
Days prior, according to The Washington Post, Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke out against the legislation, which means that it is highly unlikely that he would ever bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Ironically, a less-extensive version of ENDA passed the House in 2007, but then went on to fail in the Senate. However, given the upcoming midterm elections and the fear of conservative backlash crippling the GOP caucus, there would have to be considerable pressure on the Speaker for this bill to stand for a vote, let alone be sent to the President’s desk.
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The bill was first introduced in 1994 by the late Ted Kennedy with the intention to curb discrimination based on sexual orientation. This most recent version is the most expansive yet, also including protection for issues relating to gender identity along with sexual orientation.
Critics of the bill—outside of those that are morally opposed to the very groups this act protects—suggest that this will result in troubling lawsuits from employees fired for just causes who also happen to be LGBT. Still the addition of the 10 Republicans also meant that amendments were added to the bill that, in the words of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, “moves forward in a way that works for employers as well as employees.” While the future of this particular bill is somewhat dismal, it does show promise that the “war against compromise” in the halls of Congress might be waning.