Activists affiliated with GetEQUAL were set on Wednesday to interrupt a debate between Rep. George Miller (D-Calif) and his Republican opponent in an effort to push for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
According to a statement, GetEQUAL was set to stage an act of non-violent, civil disobedience during the debate between Miller and GOP candidate Rick Tubbs at the Travis Credit Union Auditorium in Vacaville, Calif.
Protesters were set to silently walk to the front of the auditorium holding a sign reading: “Miller Markup Employment Non Discrimination Act Now.”
Set to work in conjunction with GetEQUAL was One Struggle One Fight, another LGBT civil disobedience organization, and Pride at Work, an LGBT constituency group of the AFL-CIO.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, pending in committee in both the House and Senate, would bar job bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most public and private workforce situations.
Miller is chair of the House Education & Labor Committee, where ENDA currently sits in the U.S. House. The committee held a hearing on the legislation last year, but has yet to move it to the House floor.
Robert Moore, spokesperson for One Struggle One Fight, emphasized the importance of passing ENDA in a statement.
“The ability to obtain or maintain employment should have nothing to do with someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” he said. “They have nothing to do with one’s ability to complete any job’s objectives and under the law, that should be all employers are allowed to base hiring and firing of an employee on.”
For some time, Miller has neen saying his committee would begin work on ENDA. Asked by the Blade in March when ENDA would advance to a markup, Miller replied, “Right after health care.”
In a statement, Dan Fotou, a California member of GetEQUAL and protest participant, noted that Miller has the power to bring ENDA to the House floor.
“He promised the LGBT community he’d pass ENDA out of his committee, ‘right after healthcare,'” Fotou said. “Well, healthcare passed nearly six months ago and we’re still waiting. It’s time that ALL Americans were protected from the ugly reality of discrimination.”
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said the House wouldn’t hold a vote on ENDA until Congress finishes legislative action in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
UPDATE: Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV reported on Wednesday that the action against Miller proceeded as planned:
The protesters walked to the front of the debate area holding a sign reading: “Employment Non Discrimination Act Now.” They want Miller, chair of the U.S. House Education and Labor committee (seen here with the white hair in between the signs), to keep a promise he made to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Congress recesses for the November, midterm elections.
GetEQUAL also provided photos of the action:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that this action was set to take place on Thursday.