GetEQUAL Activists Call Out Democratic Majorities Lack of Leadership on
Bill; Confront Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to Demand Floor
WASHINGTON Carrying markers for each member of the House Education and Labor Committee, GetEQUAL, a new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and activist organization, co-founder Robin McGehee, Mark Reed, Kelsey Phipps, Natasha Dillon, Alan Bounville, Sergio Llanos and Ali Lozano interrupted the beginning of the Committee hearing today on Capitol Hill to demand that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) be marked up and sent to the House floor for a vote immediately. The GetEQUAL activists held up signs reading 'GetEqual Pass ENDA' in the middle of the hearing, effectively stopping the proceedings for several minutes. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) escorted the activists out of the committee hearing room and then the Capitol Hill Police immediately detained all seven activists.
** To schedule an interview with one of the participants involved in todays protest, contact Joel Silberman at 917.287.3816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
'Every day that ENDA is not passed is another day when someone in our community will be fired, especially transgender individuals and those living in states that have struck down employment protections,' said Mark Reed, a member of GetEQUAL and one of the activists involved in todays protest. 'We are determined to continue fighting for this bill and intend to use non-violent civil disobedience and people powered actions to bring attention to the injustice.'
In reaction to the protest, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA) responded, 'Its not an easy piece of legislation,' Rep. George Miller (D-CA) said. 'Its a really complicated piece of legislation. We want to get it right, but we expect to have it before this committee in the very near future.' 'Were working on it as expeditiously as we can,' Rep. Miller said.
'We have been chasing Representative Miller since the end of last year,' said Robin McGehee, co-founder of GetEQUAL. 'Today we finally had the opportunity to confront him and tell him we are tired of the delays and the empty promises.'
According to the Dallas Voice, an unidentified committee member could be heard voicing opposition to ENDA. 'This is the problem with this. Theres no end to it. Youre never going to satisfy them all,' the lawmaker said.
'The unidentified lawmaker is correct,' McGehee continued, 'were not going to be satisfied until the Democratic Congress keeps its promises to the LGBT community. And were going to keep coming back until they do.'
ENDA has been stuck in the House Committee on Education and Labor, chaired by Rep. Miller, since last year even though Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) promised it would come to a vote by the end of 2009. In December, the Committee postponed a mark-up of the bill. More recently Frank, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) all claim it is a high priority and they have the votes to pass it.
On March 18 of this year, GetEQUAL activists staged simultaneous sit-ins in House Speaker Nancy Pelosis San Francisco and Washington, D.C. offices demanding she show leadership in bringing ENDA to the House floor for a vote. Ten activists were arrested and four were later arraigned in the District of Columbia Superior Court.
GetEQUAL was also responsible for yesterdays and last months protests at the White House, where Lt. Dan Choi and other LGBT vets handcuffed themselves to the White House gates to protest the Presidents inaction on his promise to repeal 'Dont Ask, Dont Tell' (DADT) this year.
GetEQUAL is a new online lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer activist community. Emphasizing direct action and people power, the mission of GetEQUAL is to empower the LGBTQ community and its allies to take action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information on GetEQUAL visit http://www.getequal.org
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