The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is gaining steam, with forty-nine Senators so far co-sponsoring the bill.
Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, the most recent backer of the bill, signed on quietly. Heitkamp has turned a corner; she was one among only a few of Democratic Senators who was against marriage equality, but then on April 5, she changed her position.
“In speaking with North Dakotans from every corner of our great state, and much personal reflection, I have concluded the federal government should no longer discriminate against people who want to make lifelong, loving commitments to each other or interfere in personal, private and intimate relationships,” Heitkamp said in a statement, as reported by the Bismarck Tribune.
ENDA is meant to end discrimination against the LGBT community in the workplace. The bill was introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) on April 25.
Heitkamp explained that she signed onto the bill without a public announcement because it didn’t feel like such a monumental move. “We sign on bills every day and don’t make public announcements about them. […] I didn’t think it was that, you know, earth-shattering,” Heitkamp said, as reported by the Huffington Post.
Although a majority of Democrats make up the co-sponsorship, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois are the only two Republican Senators whom have signed on board.
ENDA passed the House with a vote of 235-184 in 2007, but failed to pass the Senate. It has now been reintroduced with much more support than seen in the past.
“Support for ENDA is growing. It has more cosponsors than ever before, and senators who have never co-sponsored before are signing on this time around. The time is now for the Senate to end LGBT employment discrimination,” said Sen Merkley’s spokesman, Jamal Raad, according to the Huffington Post.