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Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helps pass ENDA

Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Baldwin

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin says she'll never forget Thursday.

Baldwin -- the first open lesbian in the U.S. Senate -- helped pass a resolution to ban job discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. 

The Democrat Baldwin co-sponsored the measure, which passed 62-34. Wisconsin's other senator, Republican Ron Johnson, voted no. 

Baldwin said her colleagues sent a powerful message that, "folks like myself" want to be judged by their work performance, and not their sexual orientation. She noted that Wisconsin was the first in the nation to pass a state law to that effect in 1982. Twenty states and Washington D.C. have passed similar bans since then. 

Johnson said gays were occasionally harassed at the company in Oshkosh he used to own -- and he made it clear the harassers were the only ones susceptible to losing their jobs.

However, Johnson said the proposed nationwide discrimination ban was flawed. He said it would create vague burdens on employers, and provide too narrow of a religious exemption. 

Johnson said the measure would spur lawsuits and keep people from being hired. The Republican-controlled House is not expected to consider the measure, although Madison House Democrat Mark Pocan wishes it would. 

Pocan, who is openly gay, says the bill's principles are so fundamental that most Americans already believe it's the law.

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