10 Republican Senators courageously joined the effort to prevent businesses from firing men who wear dresses.
How many Republicans voted for the bill?: 10. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.).
At this point, McCain isn’t exactly a surprise. Ayotte unfortunately does whatever he tells her. Why did Orrin Hatch and Dean Heller switch? The answer may lie in the turnaround of the Mormon Church on gay rights after pressure from gay groups. But Hatch has a history of waffling on the subject.
Senator Mike Lee however came out against the bill warning that it does not protect religious freedoms. Rob Portman decided to follow his son. Lisa Murkowski is well… Lisa Murkowski.
Jeff Flake initially opposed ENDA and then came out for it. “As I said in 2007 when I voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the House, one of the most important constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government is to protect the rights of individuals. While I had concerns about expanding protections beyond those House provisions, after consideration, I believe supporting this bill is the right thing to do. I am hopeful that the bill moves forward in a way that works for employers as well as employees.”
Toomey knew the bill was wrong, but ended up voting for it anyway.
Walking a delicate tightrope of not alienating his conservative base but needing to endear himself to Pennsylvania’s more moderate electorate, Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey voted for a historic gay rights bill Thursday.
But Toomey, who is up for re-election in 2016, wasn’t a sure thing. He introduced an amendment to broaden exemptions for faith-based businesses, but it was voted down 43-53.
But Toomey argued the bill created a conflict between two American values: equality and religious freedom.
“I believe, and I think most Americans share the view that every individual is entitled to dignity and respect and fairness and that individuals ought to be judged based on their merits, on their character and on their abilities,” he said. “A person’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to their ability to be a good doctor or engineer or athlete or a federal judge.”
But Toomey said he wanted to make extra sure that businesses with religious affiliations, even those that perform mainly secular duties — such as schools and hospitals — be exempt from hiring gay employees if doing so “violates the tenets of their faith.”
Some Republicans are defending this thing on the grounds that it doesn’t mandate building new facilities and provides some basic religious exemptions.
Those come next… of course.
Now it’s up to Congress to do its job.