ENDA Protesters Arrested in Senate Office

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 20 2010 2:30 PM ET

Thirteen activists demanding passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act were arrested Thursday in the Chicago district office of Illinois Senator and Democratic Party Whip Richard Durbin.

The protesters, organized by the group Chicago Harvey Milk Week of Action, entered Durbin’s downtown office at noon and demanded that the senator, who was not in the office, sign a pledge committing to the passage of a trans-inclusive ENDA. The group refused to leave and began chanting "ENDA now" when aides reportedly told them they could not speak to the senator via phone.

“Why target senator Durbin? After all, he is a co-sponsor of ENDA,” the group posted on its website. “Although we’re very glad our senator has co-sponsored the bill, we have seen him do precious little else to support it.”

Video of the sit-in is available on Chicago Harvey Milk Week of Action's facebook page here.

According to a press release by the group, the activists were identified as Andrea Crain, Kevin Connaghan, Lindsey Dietzler, Roger Fraser, Judy Heithmar, Brent Holman-Gomez, Nik Maciejewski, Rachael McIntosh, Corrine Mina, Michael Oboza, Samantha Pajor, Sherry Wolf, and Danelle Wylder.

The protest occurred as activists held a Capitol Hill rally to pressure Congress for a vote on the bill, which would protect workers from discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We’ve heard all we can stand to hear from leaders in Congress; they promised a vote this calendar year and we expect them to honor their word,” GetEqual cofounder Robin McGehee said in a statement. “As the window continues to slowly close on available legislative calendar dates to vote on ENDA in the House and in the Senate, we will continue to hold Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid accountable for the direct promise they made to the LGBT community.

"Our community has done the work to lobby and educate members of Congress on the need for a fully inclusive ENDA and now is the time to stop the talking and start the voting,” McGehee said.