'Historic' Gay Rights Legislation Has Passed The Senate, But It Might Be Dead In The House

The Senate on Thursday passed “historic” legislation aimed at outlawing workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans in a bipartisan vote.

The Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by a bipartisan 64-32 margin that included 10 Republicans. It only needed a simple majority for passage.

The legislation now faces an uphill battle in the House, where Speaker John Boehner has signaled his opposition.

“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement on Monday. This raises the possibility that it might not even get a vote in the House.

The House passed a version of ENDA in 2007, when it was under Democratic control. But it did not include protection for transgender individuals. This was the first time that the Senate has passed ENDA, a version of which was first introduced by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) in 1994.

“Over to you, Speaker Boehner,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement after Thursday’s vote. “I hope the House does the right thing.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who authored the bill, said in a statement after passage that the vote on Thursday was “historic.”

“Today’s vote was a historic vote for equality and freedom. Deeply embedded in the constitution are notions of freedom and liberty, and discrimination is the antithesis of those founding values. Everyone should have the right to work hard and earn a living. No one should be fired for who they are or who they love. The Senate said today in a strong bipartisan voice that discrimination is just plain wrong. We are one step closer to equality for our LGBT friends and family.”

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