Washington: The US Senate approved a bill prohibiting discrimination at work over sexual orientation or gender identity, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives.
Senators Thursday voted 64-32 in favour of the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, the first legislation in US history to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people in the workplace.
Ten Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.
President Barack Obama immediately praised the Senate`s action, insisting that "no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love".
"Today`s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago," the president said in a statement, referring to a 1969 episode in which LGBT patrons of a New York bar fought back against police harassment.
The president urged the GOP-controlled House to approve the measures, which, Obama said, "has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities".
But a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said earlier this week that the Ohio Republican "believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs".
Other Republicans have argued that the guarantees within the Employee Non-Discrimination Act are already included in US labour law.
Activists for LBGT rights also hailed the approval of the law, which is similar to two other bills that failed in Congress in 1996 and 1997.