America

Kirk's First Senate Speech Since Stroke Is For Gay Rights Bill

Before Monday evening's 61-30 vote in the Senate to move forward on legislation to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois marked another milestone in the recovery from a stroke he suffered in January 2012.

Courtesy of C-SPAN's online video library, we've created a clip of the senator's short address from the floor of the Senate.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., speaking from the floor of the Senate on Monday. i i

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., speaking from the floor of the Senate on Monday. C-SPAN.org hide caption

itoggle caption C-SPAN.org
Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., speaking from the floor of the Senate on Monday.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., speaking from the floor of the Senate on Monday.

C-SPAN.org

As Kirk says, he chose that moment to make his first speech from the chamber's floor since the stroke because "I believe so passionately in enacting the ENDA statute" — ENDA stands for the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act."

Also, said Kirk, "I think it's particularly appropriate for an Illinois Republican to speak on behalf of this measure in the true tradition of [former Sen.] Everett McKinley Dirksen and [former President] Abraham Lincoln — men who gave us the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution."

The roll call of Monday's vote is here. Seven Republicans joined with 52 Democrats and 2 independents to give the measure the 60+ votes it needed to move forward. The Senate is expected to take another vote — this time on whether to pass the measure — later this week.

As The Associated Press notes, "the legislation, the first significant gay rights bill since Congress ended the ban on gays serving openly in the military in 2010, faces strong opposition in the House, with Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejecting the measure."

The bill, our colleagues at It's All Politics write, "would forbid employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Back in January, we wrote about how Kirk was greeted with bipartisan cheers as he slowly walked up the steps of the Capitol for the first time since his stroke. Kirk, 54, served five terms in the House before being elected to the Senate in 2010.

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