WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr


Senate OKs Gay Rights Bill Banning Discrimination

Reported by: Send eMail Associated Press
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Reported: Nov. 7, 2013 2:28 PM EST
Updated: Nov. 7, 2013 3:17 PM EST

Eyewitness News Photo
Eyewitness News Photo

Washington, D.C. , West Virginia

The Senate has approved a bill outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

The vote reflected the nation's rapidly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after Congress rejected same-sex marriage. The final tally was 64-32.

Despite the bipartisan vote, the measure's chances in the House are dim. Speaker John Boehner calls the shots, and he opposes the bill.

Gay rights advocates hailed Senate passage as a major victory in a year of significant change.

The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage along with the District of Columbia.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




The Senate pushed toward a historic vote on legislation outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, demonstrating the nation's quickly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after Congress rejected same-sex marriage.

All 55 members of the Democratic majority, including senators from the Deep South, and several Republicans were expected to unite on Thursday in backing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Sen. John McCain, the GOP's presidential nominee in 2008, signaled his conditional support on Wednesday.

"It is time for Congress to pass a federal law that ensures all our citizens - regardless of where they live - can go to work unafraid to be who they are," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who urged House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to reconsider his opposition.

The enthusiasm of the bill's supporters was tempered by the reality that the Republican-led House, where conservatives have a firm grip on the agenda, is unlikely to even vote on the legislation. Boehner maintains his longstanding opposition to the measure, arguing that it is unnecessary and certain to create costly, frivolous lawsuits for businesses. Outside conservative groups have cast the bill as anti-family.

In the Senate, opponents of the legislation remained mute through three days of debate, with no lawmaker speaking out. That changed on Thursday as Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana said the legislation would force employers to violate their religious beliefs, a direct counter to rights embodied in the Constitution.

"There's two types of discrimination here we're dealing with, and one of those goes to the very fundamental right granted to every American through our Constitution, a cherished value of freedom of expression and religion," Coats said.

The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania that would have expanded the number of groups that are covered under the religious exemption. Opponents argued that it would undermine the core bill.

Senate passage would be a major victory for gay rights advocates in a momentous year for the issue. The Supreme Court in June affirmed gay marriage and granted federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. In the heartland, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to legalize gay marriage, along with the District of Columbia.

"I hope that we are on the verge of making history tomorrow by passing this bill with a strong vote," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Wednesday. "I then hope that our colleagues on the House side will follow suit and that we can see this bill signed into law."

If the House fails to act on the bill, gay rights advocates are likely to press President Barack Obama to act unilaterally and issue an executive order barring anti-gay workplace discrimination by federal contractors.

Through three days of Senate debate, backers of the bill repeatedly described it as an issue of fairness some 50 years after Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.

"It is well past time that we, as elected representatives, ensure that our laws protect against discrimination in the workplace for all individuals, that we ensure ... some protections for those within the LGBT community," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who described the diversity in her state.

Murkowski's support underscored the generational shift. Seventeen years ago, when a bill dealing with discrimination based on sexual orientation failed by one vote in the Senate, the senator's father, Frank, voted against it. That was the same year that Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act.

Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin. But it doesn't stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person's sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion. It would exempt religious institutions and the military.

By voice vote Wednesday, the Senate approved an amendment from Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire that would prevent federal, state and local governments from retaliating against religious groups that are exempt from the law.

The Senate planned to vote Thursday on an amendment by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to expand the number of groups that are covered under the religious exemption.

Likely Senate approval of the overall bill reflects the nation's growing tolerance of gays and the GOP's political calculation as it looks for supporters beyond its core base of older voters. A Pew Research survey in June found that more Americans said homosexuality should be accepted rather than discouraged by society by a margin of 60 percent to 31 percent. Opinions were more evenly divided 10 years ago.

Deep-pocketed Republican-leaning groups such as the American Unity Fund, which counts on hedge fund billionaires and Mitt Romney donors as well as former Republican lawmakers, pushed for the legislation.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have approved laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those also prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender identity.

About 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adopted nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. About 57 percent of those companies include gender identity.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
Judge Bars Plants And Office From Handling Certain Domestic Violence Cases
News
Apr. 23, 2014 6:51 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kennie Bass) - Kanawha County Circuit ...
Full News Story and Video

85th Habitat Home Dedicated In Cabell County
News
Apr. 23, 2014 6:34 PM EDT
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- (Dave Benton) It's home sweet ...
Full News Story and Video

Police Say Bystander Wounded In Shooting On Charleston's West Side
News
Apr. 23, 2014 10:10 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Taisha Walker) -- Three people were ...
Full News Story and Video


News Local Team Headed To National Cheerleading Competition
Apr. 23, 2014 10:08 PM EDT
News Logan County Woman Reported Missing
Apr. 23, 2014 10:07 PM EDT
News Teenage Girl Killed In Boone County Crash
Apr. 23, 2014 9:11 PM EDT
News Plaintiff In EPA Lawsuit Endorses Lane For Congress
Apr. 23, 2014 9:28 PM EDT
News WV Democrats Call on Jenkins To Condemn Ryan Budget
Apr. 23, 2014 8:50 PM EDT
News Search Called Off In Reported Plane Crash In Kanawha; Plane Lands Safely At Yeager
Apr. 23, 2014 6:31 PM EDT
News Potential Layoff Notices Worry Miners In Boone County
Apr. 23, 2014 6:44 PM EDT
News Police Said Three Arrested In Huntington Drug Bust
Apr. 23, 2014 8:35 PM EDT
News Kanawha Judge Bars Kanawha Prosecutor, His Office From Prosecuting Certain Cases
Apr. 23, 2014 3:07 PM EDT
News Winfield Getting Multi-Million Dollar Sewer Plant
Apr. 23, 2014 7:02 PM EDT
News Girls Make Donation To Children's Home Society
Apr. 23, 2014 6:32 PM EDT
News McDowell Families Displaced After Homes Deemed Unsafe
Apr. 23, 2014 6:34 PM EDT
News Crews Say Progress Made Fighting New River Gorge Fire
Apr. 23, 2014 6:33 PM EDT
News Obama Administration Tightening Coal Dust Limits To Curb Black Lung
Apr. 23, 2014 5:05 PM EDT
News Motorcycle Rider Taken To Hospital Following Crash
Apr. 23, 2014 3:33 PM EDT
News McDowell Education Program Gets $300,000 AT&T Grant
Apr. 23, 2014 6:34 PM EDT
News Capito Asks CDC About Inhaling MCHM
Apr. 23, 2014 3:36 PM EDT
News Marshall University Approves Budget, Tuition Increase
Apr. 23, 2014 3:37 PM EDT
News WV Group Wants Family Resource Funding Restored
Apr. 23, 2014 3:13 PM EDT
News Health Officials Say They Can't Definitively Tie Health Effects To Spill
Apr. 23, 2014 6:36 PM EDT
News Officials Promote Saturday's Drug Take-Back Day
Apr. 23, 2014 1:13 PM EDT
News Kanawha Magistrate Ward Harshbarger Faces Ethics Charges
Apr. 23, 2014 6:36 PM EDT
News Road In Lawrence County, Ohio, To Face Intermittent Closures For Debris Removal
Apr. 23, 2014 11:19 AM EDT
News Man Charged With Stealing Credit Card From Elderly Victim
Apr. 23, 2014 11:23 AM EDT
News Suspect Accused Of Forging Prescriptions In Scioto County
Apr. 23, 2014 11:28 AM EDT
News Two Pedestrians Struck By Vehicle In Floyd County
Apr. 23, 2014 11:11 AM EDT
News Boil Water Advisory In Effect In Clay County
Apr. 23, 2014 10:00 AM EDT
News Flags Flown At Half-Staff In Honor Of Mick Staton
Apr. 23, 2014 9:19 AM EDT
News Elephants To Chow Down At Annual Feast Thursday In Charleston
Apr. 23, 2014 9:22 AM EDT
News Bible Verse Removed From School's Gymnasium, Team's Website
Apr. 23, 2014 8:42 AM EDT


Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
Challenge to Harrison Power Plant deal rejected

The state Supreme Court has rejected a challenge to the Public Service Commission's approval of a $1.1 billion deal for the sale of the Harrison Power Station.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Oregon gay marriage ban gets day in court

Lawyers for four gay and lesbian couples and the state of Oregon are urging a federal judge to strike down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
Full Story

Ohio News
Correction officer released by Ohio jail inmates

A correction officer taken hostage by three inmates at an Ohio county jail has been released unharmed, and the inmates have been taken to a maximum-security facility.
Full Story

PREVIOUS NEWS: NOV | CURRENT







Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site







Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.