Toomey Joins Dems on Cloture for Gay Rights Bill
Senator Toomey supported a cloture vote on Employer Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) debate Monday night, which moves the bill closer to Senate passage.
Toomey joins a few other Senate Republicans and every Senate Democrat voting in support of advancing the bill to a formal vote. Earlier today, his position remained “undecided” as he received pressure from LGBT groups and was the recipient of an open letter from State Rep. Brian Sims, which was published in the Huffington Post.
Monday evening, Toomey issued the following statement, moving his position from undecided to supportive:
“I have long believed that more legal protections are appropriate to prevent employment discrimination based on sexual orientation,” he said. “So I believe the Employment Non-Discrimination Act contains very important provisions. However, I also believe it should be improved, especially as it pertains to religious organizations. I voted to move forward with debate on ENDA with the hope that the Senate will take up amendments – including one that I plan to offer – to address this important aspect of the proposed law.”
The bill already provides religious exemptions, which helped it gain the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
”Today’s bipartisan Senate vote to take up and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is an important step to ensure employees are judged on their performance, rather than who they are.” Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote on Facebook, “Workers should be judged on the quality of the job they do, nothing more, nothing less. Speaker Boehner should commit to bringing this bill to the House floor before the end of the year and allowing an up or down vote.”
ENDA now has the backing of 60 senators, making filibuster impossible and guaranteeing its passage when the final vote is called. However, it is unlikely to pass so quickly in the House where Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called the it “frivolous,” and has not displayed any inclination to add it to the legislative schedule.
Representative Sims voiced his appreciation for the Senate’s action last night on his Facebook page.
“In 29 states, including Pennsylvania, employees can be fired from their job because of their sexual orientation. But tonight, the US Senate took the first significant step toward ending the ability to discriminate on that basis,” he wrote. “I would like to especially thank Senators Casey and Toomey of Pennsylvania for their “aye” votes. Although this is just the first of many hurdles this legislation faces, I am proud that America is moving forward toward equality for everyone.”