Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate passes ban on gay bias in workplace; Nelson supported and Rubio opposed



The U.S. Senate just passed, 64-32, a bill that would provide protections for gays against workplace discrimination.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, voted yes. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio voted no.

Rubio's office explained his objection last week to the Buzz. His contention that it could lead to "frivolous" lawsuits is disputed by advocated, who point to a GAO study of states with similar protections that did not reveal a swell of legal action. 

"I don't think that is a valid criticism," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview. "In addition, when you look at the number of businesses that have voluntarily adopted anti-discrimination policies, they would not be doing so if they felt it opened them up to countless lawsuits."

Ten Republicans joined Democrats to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which will likely not get a hearing in the Republican-controlled House.

Summary from the AP:

Current federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin. But it doesn't stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire workers because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

The bill would bar employers with 15 or more workers from using a person's sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for making employment decisions, including hiring, firing, compensation or promotion. It would exempt religious institutions and the military.

By voice vote Wednesday, the Senate approved an amendment from Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire that would prevent federal, state and local governments from retaliating against religious groups that are exempt from the law.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 3:37pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours