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ENDA support steadily grows in Senate

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.)Associated Press

On Tuesday, the day before the breakthrough at the Supreme Court, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) threw his support to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), increasing the total number of Senate cosponsors to 53.

Only three Senate Democrats -- Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) -- have not signed on, while two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.), are cosponsors.

As is the case with any bill of any consequence, it's safe to assume Senate Republicans would filibuster ENDA and require a 60-vote supermajority, so 53 backers is obviously seven short. But Roll Callreports today that the bill may well "get a boost" from the Supreme Court.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act already has more than 50 Senate supporters and is set for its first committee test vote next month. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., committed Wednesday to full Senate action.

"The fight for equality continues. I will soon bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the floor of the Senate for a vote," Reid tweeted.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley cited the high court's historic rulings to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and California's gay-marriage ban as a beginning to an even larger legislative battle on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

Backers continue to keep an eye on Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who supports marriage equality because his son is gay, but has not yet endorsed this anti-discrimination proposal. His office this week said Portman "has not studied the most recent version of ENDA," despite the fact that proponents have sought his support on the bill since April.

Also keep an eye on Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who endorsed marriage equality last week.

I'm hard pressed to imagine how anyone can argue, "I support the rights of gay Americans to get married, but if they get fired from their jobs solely because of their sexual orientation, that's fine."