September 9, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Activists consider Pelosi protest at Victory Fund event

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The LGBT organization responsible for acts of civil disobedience across the country is considering taking action against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during her appearance this month at a Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund fundraiser.

Robin McGehee, co-founder of GetEQUAL, said activists affiliated with the organization are weighing the possibility of action directed toward the speaker at the Victory Fund’s Gay & Lesbian Leadership Awards, which is scheduled for Sept. 29 at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C.

The Victory Fund is set to award Pelosi with the organization’s 2010 Gay & Lesbian Leadershup Award for her “leadership on issues important to LGBT Americans” and for how she “continues to challenge official Washington to realize and embrace the fair-mindedness of their fellow Americans,” according to a promo for the event.

McGehee said GetEQUAL is “definitely making plans” for possible action against Pelosi at this event.

“We’re taking about whether or not that’s a possible target for us,” McGehee said. “It hasn’t been determined yet, but that’s one of the items on the agenda.”

McGehee said one purpose of the protest would be to encourage Pelosi to bring to the House floor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would bar job bias on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in most public and private workforce situations.

Pelosi has said a House vote on ENDA won’t take place until legislative action on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is complete.

Additionally, McGehee said the protest would be geared toward pushing Pelosi to work to earn the award that the Victory Fund is slated to give her.

“She needs to earn the award that she’s being honored with, which is the leadership award,” McGehee said. “So, we want to her show leadership around ENDA and commit to making the promises that she’s made to us true.”

McGehee said organizers haven’t yet decided on details on what the possible protest would entail, or even whether the action would take place inside or outside the Mayflower Hotel.

“We will have people on the inside, but whether or not we will do anything on the inside or outside — we haven’t decided yet,” she said.

McGehee said the decision on whether the protest would disrupt the Victory Fund fundraiser would be “totally up to” protesters.

In response to these plans, Robin Brand, deputy executive director for the Victory Fund, said her organization respects GetEQUAL and “the work they’re doing to try and get ENDA passed.”

Still, Brand maintained that Pelosi deserves of the award that the Victory Fund plans to give her.

“We also are proud to be honoring Nancy Pelosi because we think — we feel that she’s accomplished a lot of the LGBT community this year,” Brand said.
Brand counted the passage of hate crimes protections legislation and moving toward legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as among Pelosi’s accomplishments.

Additionally, Brand commended Pelosi for being outspoken about the repeal of Proposition 8, which prohibits same-sex marriage in California, as well as her support the recent federal court ruling overturning the amendment.

“No doubt there’s more work to do, and we know that GetEQUAL is a critical component to making sure we move on as fast a timeline as possible to get all the protections we need for the community,” Brand said. “At the same time, we are proud of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership on LGBT issues this past year.”

McGehee maintained the possible protest isn’t intended as criticism for the Victory Fund.

“We really think the Victory Fund does wonderful work and we know that she’s helping them by attending the fundraiser,” McGehee said.

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, said the speaker has “been a staunch advocate for equality and against discrimination” for more than 20 years in Congress.

“She has led the way in the fight against AIDS and against attempts to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution,” Hammill said. “As speaker, she led the effort to make the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land and led the House to pass repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The speaker’s advocacy and record of accomplishment for the LGBT community is clear.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

8 Comments
  • Waist of time… You will only make our leaders look worse and give the idiots ammunition.

    Despite what you think, she is only the leader, not in charge.

    • In the first two years of Democratic Party control of the House, Senate and the White House, Speaker Pelosi squandered the opportunity she had as leader in the House to get ENDA passed. She had the votes by the whip count and she blew it. Not because she’s inept but rather because she operates as a crass opportunist. That is not leadership by any measure – particularly when the DNC and the party leadership made such specific and extravagant promises to the LGBT Community.

  • More childish behavior. None of these self-serving publicity stunts change anything – they just make us look stupid.

    Pelosi hasn’t scheduled a vote on ENDA because it will not pass the current US Senate. All these silly protests do is jeopardize our relationships with politicians that already support us. We are about to get clobbered in the mid-terms and GetEQUAL is simply making that worse by pissing on our friends.

    • Maybe you didn’t notice that Pelosi runs the House, not the Senate.

    • We managed to pass the Matthew Shepherd Act despite the same Congress didn’t we? So it’s a lame excuse to say ENDA can’t pass under this one so don’t schedule for a vote. If it couldn’t pass under this Congress and with this President, then it likely won’t at all with your blind mentality! Pelosi’s wasting of time on this issue has cost us dearly with a GOP majority likely to take over in November.

  • It may seem childish, but I don’t care at this point. Pelosi hasn’t done anything to deserve an award, and her insistance that work on DADT be completed before any other Pro-LGBT bills can see action is simply unacceptable. Pelosi and the Dems in Congress should have passed ENDA and the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act last year. If she had shown leadership we would be talking about passing DADT repeal, the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the Uniting American Familes Act. Ditto for George Miller who promissed to start work on ENDA in March, he screwed us over too. Nevermind worrying about “pissing off” the Dems who routinely throw us under the bus, I say we protest them and then threaten to cut them off if they don’t give us votes on our bills! They don’t take action on our bills when they have large majorities anyway, so who is scared of them now.

  • Pelosi to me has been stonewalling the community endless on voting on ENDA and that is completely unacceptable! Now she is holding ENDA hostage again, first because of health care, pending a vote on DADT since evidently she can’t do two things at the same time…like walk and chew gum.

    Pelosi may not be Speaker of the House for long after the mid-term elections and our legislation will then go nowhere if the GOP is in charge. Pelosi has squandered a unique opportunity when we had a Democratic majority in Congress and President willing to sign the legislation in power to get ENDA out for a vote! She’s failed to deliver in my book. Since when is failure rewarded with any kind of award?

  • Hmmm… She is only the leader and not in charge? I am not sure about you but I looked up those words in the dictionary and I am pretty sure that being a leader makes you in charge…

    AndrewW: Again you seem to want to piss on members of the community. Friends help friends. She isn’t helping at all. She has done great work in the past but is now complacent. Perhaps you are happy waiting for a lifetime for equality but some want to be equal sooner rather than later.

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