According to a report in the Huffington Post, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has committed to holding a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Thanksgiving.
ENDA, which would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, currently has 54 cosponsors, including two Republicans — Maine's Susan Collins and Illinois' Mark Kirk.
While the bill was first introduced in 1994, it was most recently introduced in the Senate by Oregon's Jeff Merkley. In a statement to the Huffington Post, Merkley said, "Americans understand that it’s time to make sure our LGBT friends and family are treated fairly and have the same opportunities. Now it's time for our laws to catch up. People should be judged at work on their ability to do the job, period."
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) are the only two Republican cosponsors, although ENDA's supporters are hopeful that some other GOP senators will vote for the bill on the floor. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) are considered to be possible supporters.
LGBT rights groups have been stepping up their outreach on ENDA in recent weeks. Freedom to Work launched a Latino voter phone-banking initiative, using bilingual call centers in Arizona and Nevada to target McCain, Flake and Heller.
The Human Rights Campaign, meanwhile, has more than 30 field organizers in New Hampshire, Ohio, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania mobilized around ENDA. They've held 150 events in these critical states and supporters have written letters, made phone calls and signed postcards to show their support.
And the American Unity Fund, a conservative group that supports LGBT rights and is funded by hedge fund executive Paul Singer, has been quietly trying to convince GOP lawmakers to back ENDA.