West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin says he'll vote for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, known as ENDA, making him the latest Senate Democrat to throw his support behind the law that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
The bill is now only one vote shy of a filibuster-proof majority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier this week that he will push for a vote as early as next week.
We need national protection in every corner of the country.Brian Moulton
Though it's unlikely that ENDA will be taken up in the Republican-controlled House, it will force Senate Republicans to take a stance on the issue, and could paint House Republicans as being out of step with the majority of Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination.
"It's undoubtedly a much more challenging environment for us in the House," Brian Moulton, the legal counsel for the Human Rights Campaign told Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. "And what we really need to do is demonstrate strong bipartisan support for this measure in the Senate."
Moulton says, though, that the bill does have Republican co-sponsors in the House.
Workplace discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity have been taken up by municipal and state governments.
Twenty-one states have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 17 have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on gender identity.
But Moulton says it's not enough.
"In the vast majority of places in this country, there is no legal protection against discrimination on the state or local level, and we need national protection in every corner of the country," Moulton said.
Even though same-sex marriage has taken up the movement's energy and has made great strides, Moulton says "it is frustrating that what one might think of as a more basic and fundamental protection — protection in the work place — is still not yet a reality in the entire country."
This segment aired on October 31, 2013.