Who voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act?

November 7, 2013

Updated 4:43 p.m.

Senators voted Thursday to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the first time Congress has voted on legislation advancing gay rights since late 2010.


Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)  (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

The measure earned bipartisan support, but the bipartisan margins fell short of another noteworthy Senate vote this year.

Here's a breakdown:

Final tally: 64 to 32.

How many members of the Senate Democratic caucus voted for the bill?: 54. (52 Democrats, two independents.)

How many Republicans voted for the bill?: 10. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.).

How many senators didn't vote?: 4. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). A spokeswoman for Casey said the senator is away this week spending time with his wife, who had surgery in Boston to repair a heart valve. Coburn is seeking treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer.

Votes notes: Approval of ENDA serves as just the latest example of the remarkably rapid change in public opinion for gay rights. Consider this: Eighteen current senators were present in 1996 when the Senate first rejected a bill resembling ENDA. Two of those senators, Hatch and McCain, voted no in 1996. On Thursday, they were among the 10 Republican "yes" votes.

But ENDA fell short of the bipartisan support enjoyed by the comprehensive immigration reform measure passed by the Senate in June. On that vote, 14 Senate Republicans voted for the measure — Ayotte, Collins, Flake, Hatch, Heller, Kirk, McCain and Murkowski, plus Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), as well as Jeff Chiesa (R-N.J.), an appointee of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who has since been succeeded by Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Portman and Toomey voted against the immigration measure but for ENDA, while Alexander, Corker, Graham, Hoeven and Rubio voted no Thursday.

All of these senators have different motivations: Kirk and Collins are longtime champion of the cause; Ayotte and Heller come from states that have similar state laws on the books; Flake had concerns about ENDA but enjoyed some political cover from McCain; Hatch and Murkowski supported the bill when it was cleared by a committee in July; Portman is a recent proponent of same-sex marriage because he disclosed that his son is gay; and Toomey faces a tough reelection fight in blue Pennsylvania in 2016.

Of these senators, perhaps Toomey is the only one that might face some political backlash for his vote. While Pennsylvania is blue, much of the state remains socially conservative, especially Republican areas from where Toomey draws much of his support.

But after Thursday, it's clear: On social issues, there is more bipartisan support in the Senate for immigration reform than gay rights.

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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