The Senate voted 61-30 on Monday to begin debate on legislation that would create workplace protections for gay and transgender people in all 50 states.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, and will now have to move through a series of procedural hurdles before final Senate passage, which is expected later this week.
Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to advance the bill: Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Rob Portman (Ohio), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (Utah).
Another GOP supporter of ENDA, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), was not present for the vote.
“The right to work is fundamental,” Collins said on the Senate floor. “How can we in good conscious deny that right to any LGBT individual? … It’s simply the right thing to do to pass this bill.”
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