WASHINGTON — Eight activists with GetEqual were arrested Thursday outside House Speaker John Boehner’s office as part of a protest demanding the speaker hold a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban anti-LGBT job discrimination.
“I’m here today because in Texas this past legislative session we fought long and hard to get the Fair Employment Act passed, which is the Texas version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Even though 76 percent of registered Texas voters supported it … we still couldn’t get it out of committee,” Tiffani Bishop, the first of the eight arrested, said prior to the action in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
“This is very personal for me,” Bishop said of difficulties she has faced and is facing in finding employment. “Eight of us drove 30 hours in a van to ask Speaker Boehner to represent the people.”
Once in Boehner’s office, Sean Watkins — who is a constituent of Boehner’s and lives in Middletown, Ohio — led the group, first by asking to speak with Boehner or a staffer about ENDA.
After several of the GetEqual activists told their stories of discrimination — or, in one case, a mother’s story about discrimination faced by her daughter — they then demanded that Boehner commit to holding a vote on ENDA in 2013. When told that their message would be taken to Boehner but no commitment was given, the activists began a sit-in in Boehner’s office.
After Capitol Police told the protesters that they could not yell or sit in Boehner’s office without the office’s permission, they went into the hallway. At that point, they sat down again and began chanting until officers began making arrests.
Those arrested included Watkins and Corey Phillips of Ohio and mother and daughter Cindy Candia and Kaya Candia-Almanza, Koby Ozias, Carey Dunn and Erin Jennings of Texas.