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Senators Split On Bill Prohibiting LGBT Discrimination

The U.S. Senate voted to pass the measure 64-32.

Indiana’s Senators split votes Thursday when the Senate voted to pass a bill that prohibits workplace discrimination of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

As NPR reports, if passed by the House of Representatives, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would ban organizations from factoring sexual orientation or gender identity into employment decisions.

The bill would apply to any private employer that has more than 15 employees; it includes an exemption for religious groups.

The measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of characteristics that cannot be discriminated against in the workplace passed by a vote of 64-32 — a slightly stronger showing than an earlier vote to move forward on the legislation, which passed 61-30.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, was the first opponent of the bill to speak on the Senate floor Thursday.  He says he opposes discrimination of all forms, but ENDA raises concerns about freedom of expression and religion.

Coats also says the protections for religious liberty in the bill are “vaguely defined, and do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices.”

Coats voted against the measure, but Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, voted in favor of it.

Both senators previously voted in support of an amendment to the bill that would also have granted exemptions to organizations managed by or affiliated with churches or religious organizations, such as hospitals.  The amendment did not receive enough votes to pass.

The bill now moves to the House.

Network Indiana contributed to this report.

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