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Workplace Discriminaton Ban Passes Senate, Merkley Sees Chance In House

OPB | Nov. 7, 2013 9:20 p.m. | Portland

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A bill that bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has cleared the U.S. Senate. Oregon’s Jeff Merkley sponsored the legislation, and he says it has a chance in the House.

The bill passed the Senate 64-to-32, thanks in part to Merkley’s effort to bring ten Republicans on board.

Merkley says the support from GOP Senators may encourage House Speaker John Boehner to bring the measure to the floor for debate.

Boehner has said repeatedly that he opposes the measure. But Merkley hopes Boehner will take a second look at the issue, as — he says — many Americans have.

“They might have felt one way ten or 15 years ago, and today they look at it and say, ‘No, every individual should have a fair shot at getting a job. No one should be fired because of their sexual orientation.’ ”

Merkley says the bill’s passage in the Senate fulfills a promise he made in 2009 to a dying Senator Edward Kennedy to take over leadership of the anti-discrimination legislation.

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