Here’s how area senators voted on major issues in the week ending Nov. 8. The House was in recess.
Ban on workplace discrimination
Voting 64 for and 32 against, the Senate on Nov. 7 passed a bill (S 815) to outlaw workplace discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity just as existing federal laws prohibit bias at work based on race, sex, nationality, religion, age or disability. Now before the House, the bill applies to private and public employers, labor unions, employment agencies and labor-management committees in their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. The bill exempts religious organizations, allowing them to consider one’s sexual orientation and gender identity in making employment decisions, and also exempts the personnel practices of businesses with fewer than 15 employees.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the bill “embodies a simple but powerful American ideal: On the job, what matters is your work, not your gender or skin color or faith or your sexual orientation any other extraneous matter.”
Dan Coats, R-Ind., said the bill “raises very serious concerns regarding religious freedom” because its “so-called protections from religious liberty ... do not extend to all organizations that wish to adhere to their moral or religious beliefs in their hiring practices.”
A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where GOP leaders say they will not schedule a floor vote.
Voting yes: Al Franken, D, Amy Klobuchar, D
Voting no: None
Not voting: None
Exemptions based on religion
Voting 43 for and 55 against, the Senate on Nov. 7 defeated an amendment to greatly expand the number and types of organizations exempted from S 815 (above) on the basis of religion. Modeled after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the underlying bill does not apply to houses of worship or affiliated organizations primarily involved in religious activities. This amendment sought to also exempt hospitals, schools, charities and other entities solely on the basis that they are owned, controlled by or officially linked to a house of worship or a religiously affiliated organization.
Sponsor Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said that without his amendment, “There will be no uniform, predictable national standard for determining when a religious entity, a religious organization, is exempt from the bill.”
Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said: “Any claims that (the bill) harms religious liberty are misplaced” because it already “broadly exempts from its scope houses of worship as well as religiously affiliated organizations.”
A yes vote was to broaden exemptions in the bill based on religion.
Voting yes: None
Voting no: Franken, Klobuchar
Not voting: None
Key Votes Ahead
In the week of Nov. 11, the Senate will take up a bill to increase federal regulation of compounded drugs. The House schedule was to be announced.