A bill banning workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans passed the US Senate last night with President Barack Obama describing it as an “important step” to “help end injustice”.
The Democratic-led Senate voted 64-32 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), with 10 Republicans voting in favour.
“Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love,” Mr Obama wrote in a statement following the Senate’s vote.
Mr Obama urged the House of Representatives to pass the bill, saying it had “the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities”.
“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,” he added, addressing House Republicans.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner opposes the bill
“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Mr Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.
ENDA faces immense hurdles in the House of Representatives where the GOP holds the balance of power.
President Obama does have the power to enforce ENDA via an executive order – but the White House remains adamant that it should be implemented with congressional approval.
The legislation bars employers with 15 or more workers from making employment decisions – hiring, firing or compensation – based on sexual orientation or gender identity.