The Dallas Voice is reporting that activists with GetEQUAL — the same group that interrupted President Obama during a fundraiser and handcuffed activists to the White House fence yesterday to force the administration to repeal DADT by the end of the year — disrupted a House Education and Labor Committee hearing this morning to demand that the committee mark-up the Employer Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The committee is already expected to hold hearings on the measure this week or next and the bill could get a vote in the House shortly thereafter.
As Chairman George Miller (D-CA) began today’s hearing on reforming the juvenile justice system, an activist with a ‘Get Equal Pass ENDA’ sign came up and asked him to accept a mark-up marker. Miller refused:
MILLER: And to hear from a series of witnesses on the…
PROTESTER 1: With all do respect, Chairman Miller, as a constituent of your state of California, I’m here demanding you no longer delay a mark-up…
MILLER: We’re not delaying the mark-up and thank you.
PROTESTER 1: I would just like to deliver this marker I don’t know if it’s because of the recession that you guys you can’t afford markers, or whatever the issue is, but in our community there are people being fired because they are lesbian, gay, bi and transgender.
MILLER: As you know, we are working very hard on that legislation...I will not accept the marker. We’re working on that as expeditiously as we can, thank you very much. I appreciate it, thank you.
PROTESTER 2: From Texas, Virginia…Chairman, I can be fired for being gay.
MILLER: I understand that, and that’s why we’re proceeding with the legislation.
UNIDENTIFIED LAWMAKER: This is the problem with this. There’s no end to it. You’re never going to satisfy them all.. [...]
MILLER: We are working on it which we expect to bring to mark-up rather quickly. It’s not an easy piece of legislation, it’s a fairly compliated piece of legislation. We want to get it right. But we expect to have it before this committee in the very near future.
I speculated on the effectiveness of GetEQUAL’s activism around Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell here and the “unidentified lawmaker’s” comments reiterate the concern that the group’s in-your-face disruption may alienate more moderate or conservative lawmakers and cause them to triple question their votes.
Direct activism has its place in this struggle, but at a moment when Democrats have overwhelming majorities, it seems misplaced. As Bridgette LaVictoire of Lez Get Real observes, “This is about political chess. The time of civil disobedience may one day come. That I will not doubt and will not deny. That time is not now. LGBT Militancy in a time of increased Right Wing Militancy will not get our voices heard- they will get our voices shut down.”