As expected, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act cleared its first procedural vote in the Senate early Monday evening. The vote was 61 to 30, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins, Mark Kirk, Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller, Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman and Pat Toomey voting in favor. Kirk made his first floor speech since his 2012 stroke in support of ENDA, saying, "I think it’s particularly appropriate for an Illinois Republican to speak on behalf of this measure in the true tradition of Everett McKinley Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, the men who gave us the 1964 civil rights act and the thirteenth amendment to the constitution." No Republican spoke against the measure, but an overwhelming majority of Republicans voted against it while every Democrat was in support.
The Senate can now move forward to a simple majority vote on a bill that a majority of Americans not only support but already think is law, prohibiting workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA's fate in the House is much less clear, with Speaker John Boehner, who will decide if it even gets a vote, opposing the bill because
it might provoke frivolous lawsuits and cost jobs he's afraid of the hard-right extremists in his caucus and not exactly a champion of equality himself.