The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was passed 64-38 on Thursday in the U.S. Senate, with all Democrats and 10 Republicans voting for the bill. The bill, which would prohibit discrimination in employment and hiring on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by civilian, non-religious employers with at least 15 employees, received ample protections for religious-owned facilities and businesses.
The bill now awaits action from the House, which is controlled by the GOP. Speaker John Boehner has voiced his disapproval of the bill, which likely reduced its chance of getting a hearing before the House.
ENDA has been re-introduced in every session of Congress since 1994, and the most recent version of the bill contains language protecting employees on the bases of both sexual orientation and gender identity. It first passed in the Democrat-controlled House in 2007 after stripping gender identity language from the bill, but failed in the Senate that same year.
President Barack Obama backs the bill, but has been criticized by labor rights activists for refusing to sign an executive order protecting LGBT federal employees. He has said that the issue is better resolved through congressional action.