A Senate committee has approved a controversial bill that would extend special workplace rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons, WORLD reports. On Wednesday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 15-7 to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that has long been a priority for homosexual activists. Three Republicans joined 12 Democrats voting in favor: Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill. The bill bans workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, which conservatives say would further sexualize the workplace, lead to costly lawsuits and infringe on the religious liberty of those who may disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. "The law unfairly places burdens on employers to know about their employees' sexual lifestyles and to take that into consideration when making employment decisions," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "[It] even goes so far as to require employers at daycares, public schools and Christian businesses to change their restroom and shower policies to accommodate men who dress like women and vice-versa." Current law prohibits discrimination based on race, age, sex, disability, religion or national origin. ENDA would add sexual orientation to that list, which proponents say will protect LGBT persons from being fired without cause. Perkins said the legislation will be abused and keep companies from even enforcing reasonable grooming standards. Gay activists called the vote "historic" and urged passage in the full Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to bring it up for a vote. ENDA will likely need 60 supporters to fend off a procedural filibuster from Senate conservatives. With three Republicans already supporting the bill and 55 Democrat votes likely, it may have a strong chance of passing in the near future.