The Senate voted earlier today to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a landmark piece of legislation that makes it illegal to discriminate against LGBT individuals at work.
According to the Huffington Post, ENDA outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, meaning it would be against the law to fire or treat a worker differently because he or she is gay or transgender.
While it is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability, twenty-nine states currently have no laws protecting LGBT individuals in the workplace.
ENDA was first introduced by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) in 1994. Shortly before his death in 2009, Kennedy asked Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) to take charge of getting the legislation passed.
“Today’s vote was a historic vote for equality and freedom,” Merkley said in a statement.
“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.”
A surprising cast of Republicans backed the bill, such as Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, the latter of whom had previously expressed concern over litigation that would result from the bill.
Immediately following today’s vote, President Obama called on the House of Representatives to take it up.
“One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do,” he said. “Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law.”
Though House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) opposes the bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) believes it will pass should it come up for a vote.
“I think the House is going to have to capitulate,” Reid said, according to HuffPost “if they have any hope of having a president that can be a viable candidate or they think they can elect some Republicans and they want to hang onto the House.”
Via: Huffington Post, Top Photo Credit: Getty Images