Indeed, the bill will need that additional support to break the 60-vote threshold to begin debate. Supporters say they are optimistic about garnering the extra support needed to break any filibuster, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court victories on two same-sex marriage cases.
“Most of the negativity about LGBT people in the right wing has been politically motivated,” contended Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Now that everyone understands that it’s a political loser, the reasonable folks on that side are coming over very quickly. Will we get all of them? No. Will we get most of them? Probably not this year, but eventually.”
Even if the bill passes the Senate, it’s not clear whether a path exists through the House. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., have introduced a companion Employment Non-Discrimination Act (HR 1755) that has 177 co-sponsors, including three Republicans.
The bill would likely be a hard sell to the conservative House Republican Conference, especially with the language to prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of “perceived” sexual orientation and “gender identity.” Still, supporters are optimistic about the progress they’ve made so far.
“We’re incredibly excited that we have reached this point and are really very, very keen on making sure that the momentum that we have garnered from the Supreme Court decisions evolves,” Young said. “It’s a very interesting moment in time, and I think we’re headed in the right direction. We’ve got what’s just and what’s right on our side.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.