Queer Activists Demand Amnesty, Stage Sit-In on Capitol Hill

by Ryan Lovelace

LGBT activists staged a sit-in earlier this week at the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus demanding President Obama include LGBT-specific recommendations in potential executive action on immigration. A group of “at least six” LGBT activists staged the sit-in on Capitol Hill, Buzzfeed reported. The activists want Obama to expand deferred action and end collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other law-enforcement agencies.  

Hermelinda Cortes, an LGBT activist, told Buzzfeed the activists would be sitting-in until the caucus released a statement or the activists were arrested. But the sit-in ended approximately seven hours after it began, and Equality Caucus executive director Brad Jacklin tells National Review Online it ended with no statement and no arrests. While the nature of the agreement was not made immediately clear, Jacklin says he and the staff members of the caucus leadership had lunch with the queer and trans activists.

In a statement released this afternoon, the caucus says, “Any executive action taken by the President to address immigration should institute anti-discrimination policies for at-risk communities, including undocumented immigrants who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. In far too many places, LGBT people around the world are at great risk for harassment and physical violence because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status; they should not experience the same harassment while undergoing the immigration process in the United States.”

Jacklin says the caucus includes 114 members of Congress, and the seven openly LGBT members co-chair the caucus. All 14 co-chairs and vice-chairs of the group are listed as Democrats on the caucus website, but Jacklin touts the fact that the caucus is a bipartisan group. Several LGBT organizations involved in the sit-in at the caucus office appear ready to rally in Washington and march to the White House tomorrow with the #NOT1MORE campaign, promoted by NotOneMoreDeportation.com.

Jacklin declined to say whether he hoped the president would expand deferred action to explicitly include LGBT individuals, but says the queer and trans activists are concerned with seeing how the president addresses the LGBT community in executive action related to immigration.