Jeff Merkley courts GOP support on ENDA

The Oregon senator says he's been talking with Rob Portman and other Republicans about supporting the legislation

Published April 28, 2013 4:17PM (EDT)

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (Facebook/jeffmerkley)
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. (Facebook/jeffmerkley)

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., says that he's been having talks with Republicans about potential support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act - including with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who recently became the first Republican senator to back marriage equality.

Merkley co-sponsored the bill, which would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, with Republican Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine.

"I’ve had an initial conversation with [Portman] and told him I’d be following up as we filed the bill,” Merkley told The Huffington Post. “But I can tell you I’ve sat down with a number of Republicans who have not come out publicly yet. They’re still mulling over what they’re going to do, but I think there’s a very good chance they’re going to be supporting this bill. Whether that comes in a co-sponsorship or an affirmative vote when we are on the floor is yet to be seen. But I think that our numbers will be increasing both in sponsorship and in a floor vote than where we would have been had we had a floor vote even two years ago or four years ago.”

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Employment Discrimination Enda Gay Rights Jeff Merkley Lgbt Oregon