Dean Heller, GOP Senator, Backs ENDA: It's 'The Right Thing To Do'

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Monday, making it increasingly likely that the bill will get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

"After listening to Nevadans' concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do," Heller said in a statement.

He cited the progress that had already been made in his home state, saying Nevada "has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws."

"This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance," Heller said.

ENDA would make it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is already illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability.

The legislation also has the support of the entire Democratic caucus, as well as Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who are cosponsors.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted the bill out of committee, although they haven't committed to supporting it on the floor. Hatch revealed last week that he might like to see some changes to the legislation. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), meanwhile, has said he is "inclined to support" the bill, and advocates believe there are a handful of other Republican senators who may be persuadable.

If Hatch and Murkowski end up supporting the bill, it will have the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate.

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