Pa. lawmaker, gay rights groups pressure Sen. Pat Toomey on ENDA vote

Sims Toomey

From left: Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila.), and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

PHILADELPHIA — Gay rights groups and a state lawmaker in Pennsylvania are asking U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey to support a bill that aims to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Sims Toomey

From left: Pa. state Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila.), and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

A key vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is scheduled for Monday evening in the U.S. Senate, and one more vote is needed for it to move forward.

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.

State Rep. Brian Sims, an openly gay Democrat from Philadelphia, wrote Toomey an open letter Friday urging him to support the bill, saying it would give LGBT Americans the same protections as other groups, reported The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I believe that there is no single piece of civil rights legislation in existence that is more impactful to members of the LGBT community than a fully inclusive ENDA,” wrote Sims, who was the first openly gay candidate to win a seat in the state legislature.

“No one should lose their job, be subjected to discriminatory treatment or harassment, or be denied the opportunity for advancement because of bigotry, fear or hatred,” wrote Sims.

Article continues below has targeted six Republicans, including Toomey, to try to persuade them to support the measure. A coalition of civil rights groups, labor unions, and gay-rights organizations delivered more than 4,100 postcards to Toomey’s Harrisburg office last week pushing for his vote.

All 55 members of the Senate’s Democratic majority are expected to vote “yes” on ENDA, along with four Republicans. Proponents are optimistic that four other Republicans also will support moving ahead.

A spokesman for Toomey, a Republican, says the Pennsylvania senator is still undecided.

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