Targets House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Last week, GetEQUAL, a national, direct-action LGBT civil rights organization, staged a sit-in inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. protesting in support of a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this year.


The sit-in, outside the door to the Speaker’s office, targeted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by demanding she fulfill her promises to pass ENDA this year. The group of about 20, eight of which were arrested, also had a signed letter delivered to the Speaker’s office outlining their reasoning for taking today’s action. The group’s letter referenced Speaker Pelosi’s speech on Saturday to Netroots Nation, stating, “You also told us that we needed to ‘get the drumbeat going’ and ‘make [you] do it.’ Madame Speaker, we are here to do just that.”

On July 14th, GetEQUAL sent out a national email to its members and supporters asking who their next set of ENDA direct actions should target. Speaker Pelosi received the highest number of responses. Also, GetEQUAL’s Washington, D.C.-based members and supporters met recently to organize a direct action, and overwhelmingly agreed on targeting her as well.

“We know that Speaker Pelosi has the political prowess and the political bandwidth to take on ENDA while the Senate is shepherding ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ through the legislative process,” said Robin McGehee, co-founder of GetEQUAL. “We are pressuring Speaker Pelosi to move on ENDA because, while we know that she values the legislation, we have yet to see her show the leadership she’s promised in taking ENDA out of committee and moving it through the House.”

“We are following her advice to ‘make her do it,’ and to ensure that she and the rest of the House see that people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line here,” said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL. “As we head into the August recess, we will take the energy of today’s Rotunda action out into the states, and look forward to building popular support for the legislation in coalition with other LGBT organizations. We will concentrate on the districts where Representatives and Senators have not yet found the courage to step forward to support ENDA—both Republicans and Democrats.”

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can be fired from their jobs in 29 states, and transgender or gender-nonconforming employees can be fired in 38 states.

Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly told progressive activists to “make her” pass progressive legislation like ENDA, comprehensive immigration reform, and a comprehensive climate change bill. GetEQUAL activists took up that challenge and today’s action builds on prior actions that GetEQUAL has organized or co-organized, including sit-ins in Speaker Pelosi’s offices in March of this year, a shut-down of the Las Vegas Strip last week targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and several rallies at Speaker Pelosi’s district office in San Francisco, including one yesterday.

Last Thursday, GetEQUAL released a timeline showing years of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the stalling of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers. In the timeline, Speaker Pelosi is quoted numerous times promising that a vote on ENDA “will be soon.”