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A Majority Of The Senate Is Voting For LGBT Rights

Even under Republican control, a majority of the Senate has repeatedly voted in favor of pro-LGBT measures this year. The beginning of a new normal?

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WASHINGTON — For the third time this year, a majority of the Republican-led Senate voted for a pro-LGBT measure — with 56 senators, including 10 Republicans, voting for an amendment that including LGBT protections for runaway youth.

Wednesday's vote to amend the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 failed, however, as it would have required 60 votes to pass. The amendment included a nondiscrimination clause that would have prohibited runaway and homeless relief programs created by the act from discriminating against LGBT children based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, Dan Sullivan, and Pat Toomey joined all the Democrats in voting for the measure, which was brought to a vote by Sen. Pat Leahy.

Among the declared presidential candidates, Paul was the only one to vote for the measure. Sen. Marco Rubio opposed the amendment, and Sen. Ted Cruz did not vote on the amendment or the underlying bill, which passed 99-0.

This was not the first such vote, suggesting that, while there is still not yet a filibuster-proof majority supporting LGBT rights in the Senate, there is a simple majority who appears willing to back a broad range of LGBT rights measures. In many cases, however, the Republican leadership's opposition to LGBT rights measures would keep them from coming to the floor. On amendment votes, however, such measures often are able to come to a vote in the Senate.

Earlier this year, for example, 11 Republicans voted for a Democratic-led measure to guarantee equal Social Security and veterans benefits to married same-sex couples.

Among those who voted for Wednesday's amendment, Collins, Kirk, Murkowski, and Portman — who have announced their personal support for marriage equality — also voted for the marital benefits measure as well, as did Ayotte, Capito, and Heller.

Last week, the vote on the marital benefits measure was reaffirmed in a voice vote on a motion to instruct budget conferees on the measure.

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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