Manchin joins Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Bill Nelson of Florida, who indicated this week that they back the legislation that is critical to gay rights advocates.
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 a worker solely 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.
With a vote possible as early as next week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., needs 60 votes to overcome a likely Republican-led filibuster. Reid has the support of all 52 Democrats, two independents and is expected to get the vote of Democrat Cory Booker, who will be sworn in as New Jersey senator on Thursday.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have already approved laws banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and 17 of those also prohibit employers from discriminating based on gender identity.
This would be the first time ENDA has been voted on in the U.S. Senate in 17 years and the first time a transgender-inclusive ENDA has received a vote.
A spokesperson for Reid told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the exact scheduling of a floor vote has yet to be determined.