Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Join The Impact Chicago and GetEqual Flashmob Targets Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | September 29, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Get Equal, GetEqual, Illinois, Join The Impact, JoinTheImpact, Lipinksi, Pelosi

Yesterday, at 4pm, Join The Impact Chicago and GetEqual targeted Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois with a flashmob, calling on him to demand that Speaker Pelosi, whom he supported for her position, move a vote on ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.lipinksi dan.jpg

Who is Rep. Lipinski, and why target him?

Representative Lipinski, a Democrat in a Democratic district, voted NO on ENDA in 2007, NO on health care reform and NO on Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

He did vote yes on the hate crimes bill, so credit where credit is due.

Now I know the tired old arguments that this isn't effective, and that Rep. Lipinski was probably having a party in his office with various conservative lobbyists and religious figures while this action took place. I'm sure some of you will point to the pictures and say "but there's only nine people in the photo!" This is how movements start. Small, but when people have had enough, they join. But there has to be a nucleus. Here it is.

There are many to complain, and few to act. Such is the nature of activism. Most of us will sit in the safety of our armchairs and shake our heads at people like Dan Lipinski, and a few brave and zealous souls will stand up and be counted. Some will say that nothing can change the world, and that the forces arrayed against us are impossible to defeat. But never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead, the famous sociologist, said that, and it was certainly true of her work. If you wish to cruelly taunt and heckle Margaret Mead, you may do so in the comments below.

Pictures and GetEqual press release follow after the jump.

Here's the press release from GetEqual:

FLASH MOB: GetEQUAL and Join the Impact Chicago Target IL Rep. Daniel Lipinski to Educate and Push for Action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

Local Activists Call On Their Representative in Congress to Demand Vote Promised by Speaker Pelosi

Chicago, IL - GetEQUAL, a direct action lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization and Join the Impact Chicago (JTIC), a Chicago based LGBT equality group, held a flash mob this afternoon targeting Rep. Daniel Lipinski.

The flash mob called on Rep. Lipinski to show leadership and demand that Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi - who he supported for that position - fulfill her promise to hold a House vote on ENDA this year. The non-violent, civil disobedient action was carried out at 4pm (CST) this afternoon at Rep. Lipinski's congressional district office in Chicago, Illinois. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a piece of federal legislation that would make it illegal to hire, fire or refuse to promote LGBT workers simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees can be fired from their jobs in 29 states, and transgender or gender-nonconforming employees can be fired in 38 states.

Video and photos from today's action will be available shortly at www.getequal.org.

In July, GetEQUAL released a timeline showing years of broken promises and excuses from elected officials that have led to the stalling of any federal protections being in place for LGBT workers. In the timeline, Democratic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is quoted numerous times promising that a vote on ENDA "will be soon." The timeline is available at www.getequal.org/endatimeline.

In May of this year, Join the Impact Chicago (JTIC) held a sit-in in Senator Dick Durbin's (D-IL) Chicago office demanding he push for a Senate vote on the 40 year old ENDA legislation. Some of the same activists involved in that action are also represented in today's action targeting Rep. Lipinski.

Lindsey Dietzler, a member of JTIC who was involved in both actions, commented today, "After sitting-in at Senator Durbin's office in May, friends and colleagues would ask me why we did it. I would tell them it was to demand that Durbin forcefully advocate for a trans-inclusive ENDA. No one knows what ENDA stands for, let alone that a law like it is not already in place. It became clear, that education about ENDA to our community and advocates is essential. Our flash mob and video aim to educate folks on what ENDA is and how dire it is to our community, in a fun, vibrant and interactive way."

"As long as people's lives and livelihoods are at stake, GetEQUAL will continue standing up with allied organizations demanding federal protections for millions of American workers," said Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL. "For 40 years the LGBT community has asked Congress to simply protect our right to employment and to provide for our families. The passage of ENDA is way overdue. With the launch of our 'ENDA Summer' campaign, we pledged to continually remind politicians that while they are back home campaigning to save their jobs, we intend on reminding them that their employment isn't the only one on the line. Millions of LGBT workers punch a clock every single day unsure if today's timecard could turn into tomorrow's discriminatory pink slip. The time to pass ENDA is now."

Today's ENDA action targeting Rep. Lipinski builds on prior actions, including one recently that targeted House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. George Miller (D-CA) at a campaign debate. Rep. Miller, over six months ago, promised that after healthcare legislation was passed that he'd move on ENDA. Healthcare legislation passed the House on March 22nd, 2010. GetEQUAL has also organized or co-organized events targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress. In fact, earlier this month GetEQUAL and other LGBT advocates shut-down Market and Castro Street in Speaker Pelosi's congressional district in San Francisco. Additionally, GetEQUAL has organized sit-ins in Speaker Pelosi's offices in March of this year, various rallies at the Speaker's district office in San Francisco, non-violent acts of civil disobedience in July in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda that targeted Speaker Pelosi, and the shut-down of Las Vegas Boulevard, targeting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Contact: Brad Luna -- 202/812.8140 (cell) or brad@lunamediagroup.com

Lipinski GetEqual Action 9-28-10.jpg

Lipinski GetEqual Action 9-28-10 (2).jpg

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From bad, to worse and still completely ineffective.

If the goal is to make the LGBT community look stupid and childish, I guess you've made some progress. But, if the goal is to actually accomplish anything, this is another non-event.

Please run out of money soon.

These childish pranks don't change any minds or any votes. They just make people want to avoid us.

Thanks for featuring our action! Our ten dancers and five sign/camera/social media/DJ people were pretty well received at the Congressman's office, and we think when our video is done it will be a fun and effective awareness-raiser.

Meanwhile, you can read the letter we delivered before the flashmob at:


There's a link to the Congressman's website at that page too -- we hope everyone joins us in calling on him to do the right thing.

And Brad Luna's consulting GetEqual on publicity? I thought they were the anti-HRC.

Brad Luna left HRC a while back. Personally, I'd love to know what inspired that because when I tried to get HRC reps to appear on my radio show he resolutely refused and spent years staunchly defending HRC's "advocacy" of LGBT rights.

Maybe you should invite him to guest post. I bet I'm not the only one wondering what brought him over from the Dark Side.

Betsy Johnson | September 29, 2010 3:53 PM

Childish? HARDLY, considering this group of brave activists could have been arrested, tagged by the FBI or worse, just by showing up queer at Lipinski's office. Never mind the 80's accessories that went so well with the Salt and Peppa PUSH IT theme! If only EVERYONE in our community had the courage and maturity to show up at a creative non-violent useful event like this ENDA Summer flash mob ... we wouldn't be sitting around criticising each other's actions. We'd be out getting jobs,or enlisting,or marrying,or any other rights that we've been denied all these years.

Thanks JTIC and GET Equal friends for your fabulous and positive expression of a very serious injustice. Hearts are opening!

It doesn't take "bravery" or courage to do something that is totally ineffective. Embarrassing, inconveniencing or harassing people DOES NOT "open any hearts."

It is fine for you and a few others to think these publicity stunts are effective, but that doesn't make it so. If they were effective they would get participation and results. These childish stunts don't create either. In fact, most of us see them as counterproductive - meaning they hurt us, not help us.

It's easy to be a self-described "activist" and pretend that the "risk of arrest" makes something admirable, brave or effective, but given the fact that the action doesn't produce anything, it's actually stupid, not brave.

I see you posting comments on EVERY single blog, story or posting about GetEQUAL. You are quick to criticize, but never actually offer an alternative solution to these kinds of actions. This action is not about being perceived as brave or risking arrest or solely about getting publicity. This action is about education. We seek to educate both our community and those who advocate for us about what ENDA is. In a sense, I guess we do want publicity but not in a self-righteous, self-gratifying way like you would suggest, but because we seek to educate and raise awareness about the gross inequality the queer community faces everyday in this country.

When I went around to Gay and Lesbian studies classes at a local college to recruit students to participate in the flash mob, out of the 125 students I spoke to only 4 had heard of ENDA and only 2 actually knew what the acronym stood for. This only served to prove to me that this is EXACTLY the kind of action we do need. Even if our video (which is coming soon) only inspires one person to activism and/or out of apathy, or only educates one person about what ENDA is, then we have succeeded in furthering our civil rights movement.

It is fine if you want to disagree with GetEQUAL's and Join the Impact Chicago's approaches toward equality, but until you rise up and take action yourself or offer constructive criticism, YOU are only damaging our community and it's efforts to build solidarity by being the first to respond to every post and to do so in a negative way.

An "alternative solution" Lindsey? Street-theater is not a "solution." I have invested plenty in potential solutions and I do so based on their effectiveness.

Dancing in the streets (or blocking traffic, or making cute posters, or getting arrested for refusing to leave someones office or even marching around "demanding") doesn't change any minds or votes - education does.

If while you were recruiting at the "gay and lesbian classes" at a local college only a few students knew what ENDA was or stood for - you could work with that college to provide legitimate education effort. Your childish publicity stunt didn't "educate" anyone and likely pissed of many. It's real goal was to "embarrass" Lipinski. It's childish. If you think "embarrassing" someone inspires them to do something, please provide some evidence.

Yes, I post frequently about the antics of GetEQUAL, HRC and others. It is about accountability, get used to it - it's not going away.

I don't believe in wasting time or money. This latest stunt wasted both, no matter how much you want to believe otherwise.

Figure out a way to reach out to college students and educate, enlighten and enroll them. I know that's harder than inconveniencing people, but it actually works.

If you would like to read the letter we dropped off to Lipinski, please find that here. We are calling on him to be an advocate for our community and put an end to the national homo/bi/transphobia that has caused four queer teens to commit suicide in the last week.


Our action did not set out to embarrass Lipinski, it set out to call on him to do something for our community. Our action was based in good intentions, as our video will be. There is already enough negativity, and that is not something that I am willing to perpetuate.

And it is not enough merely to educate students, we must strive to inspire and move them. Ask any college aged student what would inspire them more to get active, a lecture about ENDA or a video that utilizes a popular song, fun choreography, sends a message and calls for action.

It was The Yes Men and Michael Moore (circa The Awful Truth) that first inspired me to take action, because they took on really heavy, important issues and engaged people in a new and creative way. Both have reached vast audiences and educated millions BECAUSE they do so in a way that interests and enlightens people.

This action cost nothing other than that which it cost to print posters. And every person involved in this action was not only happy to volunteer their time, but found it fun, engaging and meaningful.

People questioned the tactics of Act Up, but in the end it was they who really brought AIDS awareness to the forefront of American minds and made it impossible for politicians to continue to ignore the AIDS Crisis.

Finally, there were a lot of people who thought Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Woolworth Counter Sit-Ins were foolish, but it allowed Martin Luther King Jr. to be able to negotiate with politicians, saying these actions are not going to stop. It was non-violent civil disobedience that in the end, won the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Again Andrew, you have offered no alternative solutions or actions, only snarkiness and insults, which frankly, is the exact opposite of what our movement needs right now.

I am open to discuss tactics forward to full federal equality for the queer community with you and am always excited to hear fresh ideas, if they come from a positive place.

It's 2010. ActUp was about death. It was an emergency and people recognized that. It was a valid cry for help. You cannot compare GetEQUAL's stunts to any of those activities.

Reference from the 1960s don't apply, either. We're not black and the world has changed dramatically. We ride the buses. We don't have separate water fountains. In fact, we're not even being "oppressed," we're being hated. We are being hated by people that have been taught to hate us. It's a lot different than the civil rights struggle of the 60s.

Circus-style street theater and protest as "tactics" (not you individually or your volunteers) are being held accountable. Deliver your letter and post your video. I don't see where the "protest" part helps you at all.

You have agreed "education" is important, then educate instead of performing publicity stunts. Enroll people and get them to educate.

We do not have DADT Repeal or ENDA this year because we don't have 60 votes in the US Senate. Lipinski won't get us any votes. Protest won't get us any votes. Lobbying won't get us any votes. ONLY changed minds will change the outcome. We need to change some Senators or change the minds of their constituents.

In your State of Illinois both of your Senators are supportive of LGBT issues. The same is true for most of the States in your immediate area. If you want to make a difference, go to Kentucky and talk to those people. 74% of the population of Kentucky is anti-gay.

I'm curious, do you really think your stunts are changing minds in Kentucky? Or Oklahoma? Or Alabama? They are not. So, tell me HOW they lead to changing the unfortunate reality of the US Senate?

But what did they do at the flashmob? They usually include some sort of dance number or whatever. The press release and your post don't say what they actually did.

Did they just mill about demanding equality? Was there a dance routine? If so, where's the video of that? I'm just imagining 50 or so people showing up in a plaza and just standing there before melting into the crowd and walking away.

The group presented Rep Lipinski with a letter, outlining the need for ENDA and an appeal for his support, followed by dancing "ENDANow!" (inspired by "Push It"):

True to form this was childish and stupid. It didn't change any minds or have any effect on your "target."

As an Employer, I would suggest that none of the participants use this video as a part of their Job Application. Not even for theater gigs.

"We're pissed and we're rocking out." Wonderful.

The time and energy wasted in this bit of carnivalesque street theater could have been put to better use by talking (not shouting or singing or dancing) to neighbors, friends, co-workers and even strangers.

Educate, enlighten and enroll.

AndrewW, you are not helpful. And being persistent enough to always get the first and last word in the comments section does not make you right.