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Reid pledges vote on bill to protect gay, transgender employment rights

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that the Senate will vote on a bill to expand gay rights in the workplace before the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Reid said the upper chamber would consider the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, which would "work against discrimination on gender identity."

The bill is unlikely to gain much traction in the Republican controlled House, but could provide Democrats with another opportunity to paint the GOP as out of step with most Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"We tried, it failed in the House of Representatives before, but we're going to take it up here again," Reid said.

The legislation almost passed Congress in 1996, and has not been voted on in the Senate since. It has heavy Democratic support and in July passed a Senate committee with Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mark Kirk of Illinois voting in favor of it.

Gay and transgender rights groups have renewed their push for the bill's passage this year. Shortly after Reid's remarks, the Human Rights Campaign tweeted out the link to a petition in favor of the bill and a template letter the group urged for supporters to send their senators.

There is currently no federal law protecting the employment rights of the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign highlights that 29 states have no laws protecting against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and 33 states have no job protections for transgender people.

"As a result, LGBT people face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job," according to the group.

Recent polling from the Americans for Workplace Opportunity found the overwhelming majority of Americans support a federal law preventing workplace discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.

The legislation provides exceptions for religious groups and the military.