(TRNS) — The Senate voted 64 to 34 Thursday to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a crucial piece of gay rights legislation that would prohibit work place discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Prior to the final vote, there was an attempt from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to broaden the legislation’s exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations. It failed 43-55, including no votes fromRepublican Senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lisa Murkowski. 10 Republicans backed ENDA in the final vote.
Despite passing easily through the upper chamber, it is doubtful whether ENDA will become law. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the lower chamber, a decision his office attributes to the fear of frivolous lawsuits.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has charged that the bill would pass through the House if Boehner yields.
Following ENDA’s passage, President Barack Obama issued a statement heralding the vote as a historic step in the direction of gay rights and calling on Boehner to move forward with the bill.
“One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do,” Obama said. “Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it. I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law. On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.”