The U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday that bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined a handful of Republicans in the Senate to support the measure.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, would prohibit employers from hiring, firing or promotion practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Portman joined the Democratic majority to back the bill, but only after his amendment was added that exempted religious employers from ENDA.
"The legislation is not perfect, but I believe the amendment improved it. And I do believe in the underlying premise of this legislation which is that people should not face discrimination because of who they are," Portman told reporters in a conference call.
Portman shifted his stance on gay rights earlier in the year after he learned his son is gay, and supported same-sex marriage. His approval rating among Republicans dipped after his reversal on the issue.
The bill has little hope, though, in the House. Republican Speaker John Boehner opposes it, and says it will only lead to "frivolous lawsuits".