A bill banning workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is poised to clear a 60-vote Senate test Monday.
Senator are scheduled to hold a cloture vote - a procedural move to end debate - on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for an employer to refuse to hire a person because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill's prospects for cloture and eventual final passage received a boost Monday morning when Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., announced his intention to vote for the bill. All 53 Senate Democrats and the chamber's two independent members plan to vote for the measure.
"After listening to Nevadans' concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do," he said in a statement.
President Barack Obama also voiced his support for the bill over the weekend.
"Right now, in 2013, in many states a person can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," Obama wrote in a blog on The Huffington Post Sunday. "It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense."
Hours before the vote, a group that opposes the bill urged lawmakers to vote against it and promised consequences against them at the election time if they don't .
"ENDA is simply not sound public policy, defining discrimination based on subjective perception of sexual orientation rather than externally identifiable characteristics of race and gender," Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition wrote in a letter to senators Monday. "We consider this legislation harmful to the family and religious liberty and we will score this vote to invoke cloture as an 'anti-family' position on our Congressional Scorecard. On behalf of Faith & Freedom Coalition's 700,000 members and supporters, I urge you to vote 'no' on cloture on ENDA."