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Hatch May Support ENDA

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, is leaning toward supporting legislation extending employment protections to gays and lesbians, his office confirmed.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which Hatch sits, will consider the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on Wednesday. The legislation already has Republican backing from Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Susan Collins of Maine. Hatch told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that while he still has some reservations about the measure, he is inclined to support the bill spearheaded by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

“My tendency is to vote for the bill,” Hatch told The Huffington Post. He added, “I have concerns about it but I also think that the language in there is really good language.”

He said that his remaining concerns had to do with exemptions for religious organizations — a contention made previously by other Republicans, such as Rob Portman of Ohio, who supports gay marriage but has said he is disinclined to sign on to ENDA.

      This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pursuant (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.) to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a), 2000e-2(e)(2)).

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