Gay-rights activists staged sit-ins at the Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif., offices of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi March 18, demanding that voting on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act ( ENDA ) take place on the House floor by the end of this month, according to Advocate.com .
Eleven advocates on the West Coast and eight on the East Coast went to Pelosi's offices at about 3 p.m. CT. ( They had previously scheduled meetings with staff members. ) Then, the activists said they would not leave until Pelosi honored their request or until police officers removed them. Ten of them ended up being arrestedfour in D.C. and six in San Francisco; they were fined $125 each and released.
Robin McGeheean organizer who was arrested that same day in D.C. for her part in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" protestsaid in a statement, "We understand that Speaker Pelosi and the rest of Congress are in the midst of passing health care reform legislation. However, health care for many LGBTQ families is intimately connected to employment protections and we cannot wait a minute longer for those protections. We've already waited far too long."
Newsweek reported that the new pro-LGBT organization GetEqual ( founded by McGehee and Kip Williams ) released a statement saying, "ENDA legislation has been stuck in the House Committee on Education and Labor since last year. Contrary to what has been told to many LGBTQ allies in Congress, The Hill reported in December that Pelosi assured Democrats she would not bring any controversial bills to the floor for a vote this year."
Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, said, "The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes," Advocate.com noted.