Senate Panel Approves LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

Wednesday, 10 Jul 2013 04:26 PM

By Dan Weil

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A Senate committee passed legislation Wednesday that would outlaw discrimination against employees in their workplace based on sexual orientation, protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender workers (LGBT).

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a vote of 15-7, The Hill reports.

Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mark Kirk of Illinois joined 12 Democrats in supporting the bill.

The bill covers the issues of hiring, firing, compensation, and terms of employment. Federal law already outlaws employment discrimination based on age, disability, national origin, race, religion, and sex, but not on gender identity or sexual orientation.

There are 17 states that do outlaw such discrimination, but the bill seeks to extend the prohibition to the other 33 states as well.

The committee's vote doesn't guarantee the bill will pass the full Senate. It is uncertain whether the legislation could attract the 60 votes needed to prevent a Republican filibuster and it would also face a stiff challenge in the Republican-controlled House.

Committee chairman Tom Harkin, a Iowa Democrat said he expects a full vote on the bill sometime during the Senate's fall session.

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