Protesters with GetEqual were arrested today (June 13) outside the congressional office of House Speaker John Boehner, according to a statement from the LGBT activist group.
The demonstrators were calling on the Republican leader to support the proposed U.S. Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Some version of the civil rights law has been re-introduced in Congress for four decades.
GetEqual activists also recently demonstrated at a fundraiser attended by Michelle Obama, where a protester shouted to the first lady that the president should sign an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT workers employed by federal contractors. Obama confronted the protester, and the incident prompted debate – on cable news, editorial pages and in social media outlets – over heckling and whether aggressive activism is the one way to move a restrained White House to action.
In a statement released mid-day June 13, activist Sean Watkins said, "It’s clear that Speaker Boehner has absolutely zero intention of supporting or moving forward the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. 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."
Obama, according to GetEqual, made a 2008 campaign pledge to sign an executive order if elected to the White House. Such an order would protect about 22 percent of the U.S. workforce from anti-LGBT discrimination in employment.
GetEqual co-director Heather Cronk said in a news release, “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 celebration is set to take place later on June 13.