By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Pennsylvania’s Bob Casey is among more than 40 Senate Democrats supporting the ‘Equality Act’ — legislation that would extend federal anti-discrimination protections to gays and lesbians along with transgender and bisexual people.

The bill has gotten some limited Republican support:

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“We have one, and one is a lot better than zero in my work,” says Casey.

Still, Senator Casey acknowledges a “difficult” calendar: the conventions, summer vacation, and the election all could shove consideration of the bill into next year.

It would extend civil rights law to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

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“LGBT Americans would be ensured that they would receive fair treatment at work, that they would not be discriminated in the context of housing decisions, and places of public accommodation,” says Casey.

He calls it ‘critical’ to pass the legislation, especially amid ‘bathroom laws’ in North Carolina and Mississippi:

“They are, in essence, a license to discriminate in all aspects of our society like the workplace and in housing.”

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To those who argue it’s an attack on religious freedom, Casey counters this bill simply ensures LGBT people get the same protections as are given for religion and race.