Federal civil rights laws protect Americans from workplace discrimination based on their race, age, gender, religion, disability or national origin. But it’s still legal in many parts of the country to deny a job or fire someone for no other reason than they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

That blot on our nation’s promise of equal protection under the law came a step closer to being erased Thursday when the U.S. Senate passed the Employee Nondiscrimination Act in a strong bipartisan vote. Mainers can be proud that both of our senators voted for passage. Sen. Susan Collins was a co-sponsor and has been an active supporter of the act for more than a decade.

Unfortunately, there still is a long way to go before employees are judged only by the work they do and not for whom they love.

The bill heads next to the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker John Boehner has already said he is opposed. But millions of Americans have been waiting too long for this effort to end here. Responsible Republicans should pressure Boehner to give this bill an up-or-down vote.