Michelle Obama heckled for LGBT executive order

Posted by Justin Snow
June 5, 2013 10:39 AM |

First lady Michelle Obama was interrupted at a DNC fundraiser in D.C. Tuesday evening by an LGBT-rights activist calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from LGBT workplace discrimination.

Michelle Obama.jpg"One of the things that I don't do well is this. Do you understand?" the first lady said to applause, according to a White House transcript.

Obama then left the lectern under a white tent in the backyard of the residence of Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer in Northwest D.C. and approached the heckler, who was Ellen Sturtz of the LGBT-rights organization GetEqual.

"[L]isten to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice," Obama said, according to the pool reporter at the fundraiser.

The crowd urged Obama to stay, with one woman near Sturtz shouting, "You need to go!"

Sturtz was eventually escorted out while shouting that she was a "lesbian looking for federal equality before I die." The incident came hours after White House press secretary Jay Carney reiterated to reporters in response to questioning from Metro Weekly the president's support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) instead of an executive order requiring LGBT nondsicrimination protections among federal contractors.

Obama promised to sign such an executive order as a candidate for president in 2008. In April 2012, he backpedaled on that promise and advocates have been pushing the White House to act ever since.

The fundraiser was also attended by the chair of the Democratic National Committee, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In a statement released by GetEqual after the incident, Strutz said she felt compelled to interrupt the first lady as she discussed a better future for the next generation. 

"I lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living," said Sturtz. "I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our childrens' future and ensuring that they have everything they need to live happy and productive lives, I simply couldn't stay silent any longer. I'm looking ahead at a generation of young people who could live full, honest, and open lives with the stroke of the President's pen, and I was hoping that the First Lady would share my concern for all of our young people."

[Photo: Michelle Obama (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)]

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