Sen. Kirk makes first floor speech since stroke

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk made his first speech on the Senate floor since suffering a stroke, urging lawmakers' approval of legislation to outlaw hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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

Kirk's speech lasted less than a minute, and he delivered it sitting down.

The rules in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act are already law in Illinois, where state officials this week could decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Kirk is one of only a few Senate Republicans who support the proposal.

"I have been silent for the last two years due to a stroke," Kirk said. "I have risen to speak because I'm so, I believe so passionately in enacting the ENDA statute."

However brief, the speech marks another milestone in Kirk's recovery from a January 2012 stroke that sidelined him from Senate activities for a year.

Over the weekend, Kirk climbed stairs at the Willis Tower in Chicago to highlight a package of legislation aimed at helping people who have suffered strokes.

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