The much-needed Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be put up to a vote by the Senate as early as next week, according to Harry Reid. Reid, who cosigned a version of the legislation in 1997, will introduce the vote for a sweeping piece of legislation that will ban workplaces from discriminating against emloyees on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. All but three Democrats, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) have signed the legislation while two Republicans Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have also signed on.
Gay-rights groups are saying that the legislation isn’t complete as it uses religious exemptions to jusitfy discrimination. “While we are glad that ENDA will receive a vote in the Senate for the first time in almost 20 years, we are dismayed that the bill continues to excuse religious bigotry as acceptable under the law. Broad religious exemptions in the bill actually make it possible that institutions such as schools, hospitals, and universities can continue discriminating against LGBT employees and prospective employees,” Get Equal wrote in a statement.