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Michelle Obama Interrupted By Gay Rights Protestor
On Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Committee fundraiser was interrupted by a woman shouting statements about equality for gays and lesbians. Obama was 12 minutes into her speech when she was interrupted by Ellen Sturtz, a member of the LGBT rights group GetEQUAL.
What Sturtz initially shouted is unknown, but Obama paused her speech to address the disruptive guest. “One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” said Obama, a statement that was met with applause. “Do you understand?” Obama then left the lectern and approached Sturtz, saying “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.” The crowd began to shout that they wanted Obama to remain on stage, and Sturtz was escorted out.
As Sturtz was brought out of the event, she shouted that she was a “lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.”
Sturtz spoke with the Washington Post shortly after the event, saying “She came right down in my face. I was taken aback.” Sturtz told the Huffington Post that she didn’t go to the event with the intention of interrupting Obama, but rather to reach out to members of the DNC that were present. Sturtz said that she was moved by the first lady’s urging of the audience to make the country a better place for the next generation to voice her concerns.
“I want to talk about the LGBT young people who are being told, directly and indirectly, that they’re second-class citizens. I’m tired of it. They’re tired of it. They’re suffering,” said Sturtz. “We’ve been asking the president to sign that Employment Non-Discrimination Act for five years. How much longer do we need to wait?”
“Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, but I can’t be quiet any longer. I was surprised by how negative the crowed seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing.”
Another GetEQUAL activist, Autumn Leaf, interrupted DNC Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s speech just prior to Obama’s.
President Barack Obama was heckled during a speech he made last week, when an anti-war protester interrupted his speech about drones and national security. The president handled the heckling well, saying that the protester’s voice was an important one and “worth paying attention to.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Michelle Obama handled the heckler “brilliantly.”