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US Senate approves ENDA religious protections before key Nov 7 vote

Not everyone is happy with the amendment

The US Senate will put ENDA to the vote Nov 7. Credit:

In a Nov 6 voice vote, the US Senate approved an amendment to anti-discrimination legislation, providing protections for religious organizations who might not want to employ people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, WNCN reports.  

The amendment was brought by Republican senators Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte. A report in The Hill quotes Portman as saying that the protections ensure that religious bodies can conduct their business "according to their deeply-held beliefs." Republican Senator Pat Toomey intends to introduce another amendment Nov 7 that would include a broader range of groups under the protections.

Earlier in the week, the Senate voted 61 to 30 for cloture on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), circumventing a potential filibuster by the measure's opponents and paving the way for a final vote in the chamber Nov 7. ENDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Huffington Post's Michelangelo Signorile is not happy with the changes attached to the legislation.

In a Nov 6 opinion piece, Signorile reminds that such exemptions have been part of the anti-discrimination measure since the 1990s and says it's a compromise that LGBT people shouldn't "settle for anymore" in 2013.

Even if ENDA makes it through the Senate, the chances of it having the same fate in the House are slim to none. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not convinced that all is lost regarding a House vote, even as House Leader John Boehner has reiterated his opposition to the legislation.

According to The Washington Blade, Reid appeared optimistic that a critical mass of House Democrats would vote for ENDA, saying that only "a handful" of Republicans is needed to pass the measure.