Gay activist Robin McGehee and six other members of the gay rights group GetEQUAL were detained Wednesday after they interrupted a House committee hearing demanding movement on a federal gay protections bill.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections).

The House Education & Labor Committee postponed a November 18, 2009 final markup of the bill.

Last week, openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, the sponsor of the bill, said committee Chairman George Miller had promised a final hearing on the bill “this week or next week.” Frank also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, had promised a quick vote in the chamber.

But activists say they've been here before. Previously, Frank had promised a vote before the end of 2009.

McGehee confronted Miller as the committee was getting started. Holding a sign that read “GetEQUAL Pass ENDA,” she asked the chairman to end the delays. All seven activists were escorted out of the hearing and briefly detained.

Miller, a California Democrat, said: “It's not an easy piece of legislation. It's a really complicated piece of legislation. We want to get it right, but we expect to have it before this committee in the very near future. We're working on it as expeditiously as we can.”

All signs still point to easy passage in the Democrat-controlled committee, where the bill enjoys the support of all of the committee's Democratic members and even several Republicans, including Judy Biggert of Illinois, Todd Russell Platts of Pennsylvania and Mike Castle of Delaware. The bill has attracted 199 co-sponsors in the House.

GetEQUAL is the nascent gay rights group led by lesbian activist Robin McGehee. The group is calling on activists to apply greater pressure – most likely including greater civil disobedience – on lawmakers to pass ENDA and repeal “don't ask, don't tell,” the policy that bans gay troops from serving openly. It is also the group behind a Monday “don't ask” action that interrupted President Obama as he spoke at a fundraiser in California for fellow Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer and Tuesday's White House protest led by Lt. Dan Choi. In the second action, Choi and five activists were arrested after they chained themselves to the White House gate in protest of the military's gay ban.