Heritage Action for America announced Friday it will score votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act next week in the Senate, because the group argues it would harm religious freedom as well as job creation.
The move by the conservative group, which is more influential with membership of the Republican-led House than the Senate, suggests that any momentum for the measure to bar employment discrimination against gays and lesbians might not persist outside of the Senate.
Even so, Senate Democrats are close to finding the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster of the measure. As CQ Roll Call reported Wednesday, supporters are now targeting a number of GOP senators.
Heritage Action raises a number of concerns about the legislation, including some that are familiar by now. One of those questions the strength of the religious protections in the measure.
"The bill also raises serious religious liberty concerns, as the 'protections' included in the bill are vague and inadequately defined," Heritage Action wrote in making the key vote announcement.
In a separate opinion piece published by the conservative National Review, Heritage Foundation fellow Ryan T. Anderson wrote.
"ENDA would further increase federal-government interference in labor markets, potentially discouraging job creation. It would not protect equality before the law, but create special privileges that are enforceable against private actors," he wrote.
Anderson also brought up concerns about the right to privacy for straight employees in workplace restrooms.
"An employer would be negligent to ignore the concerns of female employees about having to share bathrooms with a biological male who says he identifies as female," Anderson wrote. "Failing to consider these repercussions raises a host of concerns about privacy rights."
Twenty-three states have laws similar to the Senate ENDA bill.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., took the procedural steps to set up the first test vote on the motion to proceed next Monday evening. The entire 55-member Democratic caucus backs the measure, and four Republicans have signaled support.