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US Senate votes to open debate on ENDA

Non-discrimination measure receives bipartisan support in 61-to-30 vote

US Senate votes in favour of cloture on ENDA Nov 4. Credit: towleroad.com

The US 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 by week's end, The Advocate reports.

MSNBC notes that the Nov 4 vote marks the first time since 1996 that the Senate voted on the measure, which was defeated by a single vote back then.

Senate Democrats, joined by seven Republicans, gave the thumbs-up to ENDA, which would prohibit employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Huffington Post says no senator rose to oppose ENDA when it was introduced.

Speaking in favour of the measure, Wisconson Senator Tammy Baldwin, who is gay, said she understood the vote was not an easy one for some, The Advocate reports. "I understand that for some, they may believe that it’s not good politics. But I want to say that I have a deep respect for those who choose to stand on the side of progress for our country this week. So for those that stand up this week and answer the call for courage, I can say with confidence your courage will be respected and remembered when the history of this struggle is written."

In the lead-up to today's vote, President Barack Obama took to Twitter and wrote a blog, urging the advancement of the beleaguered legislation, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, reiterated his opposition to the measure, saying that it would lead to lost jobs and "frivolous litigation." Boehner's position fuelled concerns that the House, controlled by Republicans, would give ENDA the thumbs-down even if it makes it past a final Senate vote expected in the coming days.