Two weeks ago, President Obama was heckled by anti-war protester Medea Benjamin during a speech about drones and national security. The president handled it respectfully enough, acknowledging Benjamin and saying her “voice...is worth paying attention to.” Tuesday evening, Michelle Obama faced a similar situation when her speech during a Democratic Party fundraiser was interrupted by activist Ellen Sturtz from LGBT rights group GetEqual. The First Lady's response was...not quite as graceful as her husband's two weeks ago.
The Washington Post reports Obama paused her speech and confronted Sturtz “eye to eye”:
“One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” she said to applause from most of the guests, according to a White House transcript. “Do you understand?”
A pool report from a reporter in the room said Obama “left the lectern and moved over to the protester.” The pool report quoted Obama as saying: “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
The crowd immediately began to shout that they wanted the First Lady to stay, and a woman seated near Sturtz told her, “You need to go!”
Sturtz was escorted out, reportedly shouting that she was a “…lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.”
In an interview after the speech, Sturtz told the Washington Post she was caught off guard by the Obama's response.
“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz said. “I was taken aback.”
Sturtz's protest called for President Obama to sign an executive order that would prohibit contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or idenity. “I said I want your husband to sign the executive order,” Sturtz said. “Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country.”
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