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Breaking: Senate votes to approve ENDA

Today the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees in the workforce.

Sixty-one members of the Senate in a bipartisan effort voted to approve the bill that has languished in Congress for some 20 years. The 61-30 vote means ENDA clears the cloture requirement needed for a floor debate and final vote on the bill expected to come later this week.

House Speaker John Boehner, however, has said he is opposed to the legislation meaning it will not likely pass.

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ENDA advances out of committee, faces full Senate test next

Sen. Todd Harkin

Gay rights supporters in Washington have been trying to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for years, but renewed momentum thanks to two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage cases have put a new focus on workplace protections for the country's LGBT workers.

The U.S. Senate's committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today passed H.B. 815, the 2013 version of ENDA.

ENDA, in its current form, would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against workers solely based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Another GOP senator endorses same-sex marriage

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today endorsed marriage equality in a letter posted to her official senate website. Murkowski became the third Republican senator to endorse same-sex marriages with her announcement.

Murkowski joined fellow GOP Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) with her endorsement for marriage equality.

“I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government. When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values,” Murkowski wrote. “I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples’ lives – while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another.”

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Gay rights flip-flopper Karen Handel runs for U.S. Senate

karen handel publicity photo

Looks like LGBT Georgians can expect another turn as campaign cannon fodder, as Karen Handel has entered the race for U.S. Senate.

The seat, left open when Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) decided not to seek re-election, has already drawn a crowd of GOP big wigs, including U.S. Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston.

None of those congressmen could remotely be described as friends of the LGBT community, but Handel's entrance makes the race even more likely to go anti-gay.

Why? Because Handel was our friend before she wasn't.

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Anti-gay politicos may flock to race to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss admitted an anti-gay blog comment originated from his Atlanta office

The race to replace U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) could turn into a battle over who is the most anti-gay. Most of the popular candidates indentified in recent survey of voters have records of opposing LGBT equality, including frontrunners Sonny Perdue and Karen Handel.

Chambliss announced late last week his intention to retire at the end of his current term in Washington, D.C., which ends in 2014.

“After much contemplation and reflection, I have decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 2014,” Chambliss said in a statement released to media Jan. 25.

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R.I. House votes for marriage equality; bill also introduced in Hawaii

R.I. Gov. Lincoln Chafee

The Rhode Island House of Representatives today approved a bill that would allow legal marriages between same-sex couples. The vote was 51-19.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent, last week urged his state's legislature to move forward on marriage and to give him a bill to sign. Democrats listened and quickly advanced a marriage equality bill through the House.

“Rhode Island, as you all know, has a legacy of tolerance. It is the ideal upon which we were founded,” Chafee said Jan. 14. “It is time to honor and affirm that legacy by ensuring that same-sex couples can enjoy the same fundamental rights, benefits and privileges as all other citizens of our state.”

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Anti-gay boobs on the Hill, or DOMA defense renewed thanks to House Republicans

US House

Today marks the first official day of the 113th session of the United States Congress. With new appointments, incoming freshmen legislators and the drama of the fiscal cliff behind them, things are returning to what Washington considers “normal.”

One of the first acts of the Republican leadership in the House was to extend funding to continue the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in its court challenges.

The Supreme Court announced in December that it would hear a challenge to the 1996 law that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. Lower court rulings have consistently found the law unconstitutional. The Department of Justice announced last year it would no longer defend DOMA in its many court challenges.

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‘Legitimate rape’ lawmaker attempts to thwart military gays

Todd Akin

I just looked outside. The sky is not falling. And if you don't subscribe to the notion that the Mayans predicted the end of the world on Dec. 21, things appear to be chugging right along as they always have.

But if you asked outgoing U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), the recent repeal of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy, in addition to recent marriage victories achieved in the last election, prove the world is surely in its last days.

You remember Akin. He's the guy that tried to justify his position on abortion by saying that women who are legitimately raped have a way of shutting down their body to prevent pregnancy. That statement caused him to lose any credibility in his race for U.S. Senate against incumbent Claire McCaskill.

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First trans witness testifies at Senate ENDA hearing

Al FrankenGetting Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is no easy task, obviously, especially when it comes to the gender identity part. I mean, the anti-gay bigots are frothing at the mouth thinking about who will be using what bathroom.

But today the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a hearing on ENDA and included a transgender witness to testify about his experiences. This is the same Congress that likes to discuss birth control with no women present, so no doubt this was a major victory for LGBT and ENDA activists.

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Franken pushes marriage equality in HRC video

Al Franken pushes for marriage equality in HRC video

Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) added his voice to the Human Rights Campaign's “Americans for Marriage” video series this week. Franken, an avid supporter of marriage equality, says in the video that the government should “help people make those loving, life-time commitments.”

“I think everybody should be able to marry the person that they love,” the senator adds.

Watch the full video below:

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Elizabeth Warren joins ‘It Gets Better’ project

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren might just be the poster child for liberal politicians this fall, and lucky for LGBT rights advocates, she’s on our side.

The wave of national attention gained from Warren’s bitter battle over her position at the Obama Administration's Bureau of Consumer Protection propelled her into public light. Warren has focused the attention into a bid for the U.S. Senate, and plans to run against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) this fall. So far, polls have her favorably positioned against the incumbent.

Since her the announcement of her Senate bid, Warren has been the “it” candidate in the Democratic party.

Warren, a former Harvard Law School professor, is known mainly as a consumer advocate. She is also a gay rights advocate. No, not the “I have a personal objection to same-sex marriage,” kind of advocate. She's a full-on, support-us-until-we-win advocate.