U.S Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) voted in favor of a bill, on Monday, that would prohibit employers from discriminating against workers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a vote of 61-30, the Senate decided to move forward with consideration of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Portman announced his support for the measure in a press release issued after his vote.
"I don't believe any Ohioan should be fired simply because he or she is gay. In the workplace, people should be judged by their experience, qualifications, and job performance, not by their sexual orientation...??The bill's religious exemption ensures that churches and other religious employers may continue to operate according to their deeply held beliefs," Portman's statement said, in part.
Monday's bipartisan vote increases the chances that the Senate will pass the bill by week's end, but its prospects in the Republican-led House is still unclear.
House Speaker John Boehner, also an Ohio Republican, is opposed to the bill.
Boehner argues that it will lead to frivolous lawsuits and undercut job creation.
**This story was written with material from several AP reports.**