In a move designed to remove attention from the dramatic failure of the Obamacare launch, the Democratic Senate today passed the so-called Employment Non-Discrimination Act by a 64-32 vote. All 54 Democrats voted for the measure, as did ten Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), John McCain (R-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said, “Today’s vote was a historic vote for equality and freedom.”
The ENDA contains one mild anti-religious discrimination provision. But the bill includes not only sexual orientation protection, but gender identity protection, meaning that employers would be required to treat employees based on the sex they adopt. There are no provisions for protection of religious employers who are not religious institutions, like hospitals and universities.