By Melanie Nathan, June 13, 2013.
Today eight members of the group Get Equal were arrested while protesting outside speaker Boehner’s office, calling attention to the House’s failure to pursue ENDA, the legislation that would end work place discrimination against LGBT people in America.
The protestors were demanding that the speaker hold a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban anti-LGBT job discrimination.
“8 activists arrested at Speaker Boehner’s office today. The White House keeps saying that they want a legislative solution, so we went right to the source. No movement there, so the ball is back in President Obama’s corner. Will he sign the Executive Order at tonight’s White House pride reception?”
See Video emotional and dramatic Video of arrests at peaceful sit-in protest:
FULL GETEQUAL STATEMENT:
LGBT Workers from OH, TX – States Without Employment Protections – Arrested at Speaker John Boehner’s Office
After Years of Unfulfilled Promises in Congress, GetEQUAL Activists Call on President to Immediately Sign Federal Contractor Executive Order
WASHINGTON, DC – LGBT workers from states without employment protections based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity were arrested earlier today outside Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Congressional office. The LGBT workers were calling on Speaker Boehner to immediately support and move forward the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for a vote after the legislation has languished in Congress for nearly 40 years.
The LGBT workers are affiliated with GetEQUAL – a national social justice organization fighting for the full equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans – that last week confronted DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and First Lady Michelle Obama at a fundraiser over an Executive Order long-promised by the Obama Administration, which would bar any company that contracts with the federal government from sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
“It’s clear that Speaker Boehner has absolutely zero intention of supporting or moving forward the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said Sean Watkins, a gay Iraq War veteran and constituent of Speaker John Boehner’s. “In the face of Republican obstructionism, the only hope the LGBT community has of garnering any degree of workplace protections this year is for President Obama to make good on his promise to sign the federal contractor Executive Order sitting on his desk. Such an order would protect a quarter of America’s workforce from discrimination.”
While running for office in 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to sign such an Executive Order if elected, but has yet to take any action to fulfill this promise to the LGBT community. A federal contractor Executive Order would protect approximately 22% of the American workforce from LGBT workplace discrimination, and has support from the LGBT advocacy community, as well as The New York Times, The Washington Post, 37 U.S. Senators and 110 U.S. Representatives.
“Today’s action by these brave LGBT workers shows yet again the absurdity of President Obama’s continued assertion that we wait around for the passage of ENDA to come during this Republican-controlled House,” said Heather Cronk, co-director of GetEQUAL. “If the President truly cares about protecting America’s LGBT workers from discrimination, as he has stated many times during his tenure in office, then he’ll announce at tonight’s White House LGBT Pride Reception his intent to immediately sign the federal contractor Executive Order.”
The White House’s annual LGBT Pride Reception will take place this evening and include remarks from President Obama. According to the Washington Blade, “the Obama administration has held a Pride reception at the White House for each of the previous four years President Obama has been in office. Attendees are typically made up of leaders from the LGBT community, including lawmakers, activists and celebrities. The occasion on June 13 marks the fifth such celebration at the White House.”
A recent study released last week by UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute, a think tank that conducts research on legal matters surrounding gender and sexual orientation, titled “Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community”, shows that poverty rates for LGBT adults are higher than those for heterosexual adults. Women, people of color, transgender workers and other groups in the LGBT community face a particularly alarming level of economic instability, making employment protections that much more critical.
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