Senators from both sides spoke in support of the legislation, which will protect employees from being fired, declined promotion and even declined employment opportunities based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. After the 61-30 vote, the Senate will be holding a final up-or-down vote this week.
Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay senator in the country, took the first floor and implored her peers to vote in favor of ENDA.
“I realize that for some, this is not an easy vote,” said Baldwin. “I understand that for some, they may believe that it’s not good politics. But I want to say this I have a deep respect for those who choose to stand on the side of progress for our country this week. So for those than 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 the struggle is written.”
Among the many other senators who voted in favor of the bill, Sen. Mark Kirk claims it’s time for us to move forward.
“This is not a major change to law,” said Kirk. “It’s already the law in 21 states, and I think it’s particularly appropriate for an Illinois Republican to speak on behalf of this measure, in the true spirit of Everett McKinley Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, who gave us the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.”
Sen. Susan Collins echoed her support for the bill and believes it allows all Americans a fair opportunity. “I’m dismayed that so many years have gone by – more than a decade – and this bill still has not become law,” said Collins. “It is time for us to enact this important legislation.”
Although there are no senators who took to the floor to oppose the bill, Patrick Leahy gave closing remarks for those who are against it.
“So I hope my fellow senators will come together and support this important bipartisan bill without delay,” said Leahy. “And if the other body has the courage of standing up for America, to stand up for all Americans – every single American there is – and vote for the same legislation.”
An op-ed was published by President Obama in the Huffington Post, asking the Senate to pass the Senate to pass the bill and Dean Heller announced his support, crossing the 60-vote threshold required to prevent a filibuster.
The final vote is rumored to take place as early as Wednesday.