Versions of the bill have been proposed in the West Virginia Legislature the past few years, as well, but all have failed. During last spring's legislative session, a bill that would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and housing failed to get out of committee in the House of Delegates.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"We are proud to see Sen. Joe Manchin standing on the right side of history and standing up for the values of equality and fairness," Casey Willits, director of Fairness West Virginia, an LGBT advocacy organization, said in a statement. "His support is vital to passing this legislation into law and protecting the millions of LGBT workers in the nation."
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a co-sponsor of the bill, has long been a supporter of ENDA, voting yes on a similar bill as far back as 1996.
"I am against discrimination in all its forms," Rockefeller said in an emailed statement. "All people are created equally and they deserve to be treated fairly. We should never hold people back or limit them because of who they are."
Contacted Wednesday, none of West Virginia's representatives in the U.S. House would confirm a position on ENDA.
Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito, both Republicans, said they would review the legislation but added no further comment.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said, through a spokeswoman that it is unclear if Republicans in the House would bring ENDA up for a vote if it passes the Senate. He would not state his own position on the bill.
"The laws governing workplace discrimination deserve careful scrutiny by the Congress," Rahall said in an emailed statement, "not only to ensure the constitutional rights of every American, but also to guarantee basic fairness under the law."
Rahall and Capito voted against ENDA in 2007, the last time it was brought to a full vote in the House.
Reach David Gutman at david.gut...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.