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The Senate will take up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) by Thanksgiving, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday. Tuesday, the bill, which would bar employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, picked up its 56th supporter in the Senate, Florida's Bill Nelson:
Only two Republicans -- Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) -- have so far signed on as co-sponsors, although Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted for the bill in committee in July.
With Nelson's support, there are now 56 ENDA supporters currently in the Senate, and when Sen.-elect Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is sworn in on Friday, that number will rise to 57.
A campaign to get the bill to a filibuster-proof 60 supporters will likely focus on New Hampshire's Kelly Ayotte, Ohio's Rob Portman (who supports marriage equality on account of his gay son but has yet to say if he thinks his son should be protected from firing over his sexuality), Arizona's Jeff Flake and John McCain, Nevada's Dean Heller, and Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas are the only Democrats who have not signed on.
The protections in ENDA are overwhelmingly popular among voters; in fact, many believe it is already law, though in fact just 21 states and the District of Columbia have prohibited discrimination for sexual orientation, and just 17 states and the District of Columbia have included gender identity in those protections. In all the other states, employers can openly fire workers because they're gay or because of their gender identity. Despite the popularity of banning discrimination, though, even if ENDA isn't filibustered in the Senate, there's basically no chance John Boehner will bring it for a vote in the House.