First Lady Clashes With Protester; Threatens To Leave Event
By CNN Political Unit
Originally printed 6/13/2013 (Issue 2124 - Between The Lines News)
(CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama had a rare run-in with an audience heckler June 4 during a fund-raising event in Washington for the Democratic National Committee.
The outburst from the crowd distracted Obama at a point in her speech when she was speaking emotionally about children and their futures, prompting her to threaten to leave if the woman wanted to keep speaking.
"One of the things I don't do well is this," she said, according to a pool reporter who attended the event. Television cameras were not allowed inside.
Obama walked toward the protester, saying she could "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice," according to the pool report.
The protester was identified as Ellen Sturtz of the gay rights group GetEQUAL. She was calling on President Barack Obama to sign an executive order barring discrimination based on sexual orientation by federal contractors.
Sturtz was escorted out of the event, held at a private residence in northwest Washington.
Tickets for the fund-raiser ranged from $500 to $10,000.
The White House, as it does with many events, released a transcript of her remarks Tuesday night. While the transcript includes the beginning of the first lady's response to the protester--"One of the things that I don't do well is this. Do you understand?"--the transcript does not quote the exchange between the two, which happened away from the microphone.
Early Wednesday morning, Sturtz said in a statement released by GetEQUAL that she had "lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living."
"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," Sturtz added. "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."
The interruption came less than two weeks after President Obama faced a Code Pink protester who loudly advocated for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison during the president's national security speech.
The president, who was making his remarks before cameras and a large audience, handled the situation differently than his wife's confrontation.
"This is part of free speech, is you being able to speak but also you listening and me being able to speak, alright?" Obama said upon the interruption. The president has used the tactic before when interrupted.
The woman, peace activist Medea Benjamin, kept up her protest, which also included a rebuke against American drone strikes that have killed civilians. Obama eventually diverted from his prepared remarks to address the situation head-on.
"The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to," he said. "Obviously I do not agree with much of what she said and obviously she wasn't listening to me in much of what I said. But these are tough issues and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong."
- Study: Only 16 Percent Of Men Who Have Sex With Men Report Using Condoms 'Always'
- New Data Shows U.S. Benefiting From Same-Sex Marriage
- NYC Approves Ordinance On Trans Birth Certificates
- LGBT Baby Boomers Face Tough Retirement Hurdles
- In Wake Of Murder, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
- Financial Tips For Same-Sex Couples
- Group: Army To Recognize Transgender Vets' Names
- New Non-Discrimination Rule Implemented Federally
- Attorney: Same-Sex Marriages Should Start Soon In Miss.
- Will U.S. Supreme Court Resolve Marriage Debate?
- Mississippi Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban
- Study Suggests Genetic Link For Male Homosexuality
- Shelter in Kansas City Won't House Gay Couples
- Gay Marriage Issue Now Linked To Ohio Senator
- Another Top Ohio Republican Speaks On Gay Marriage
- Pope Reinforces Traditional Family Values
- Election 2014: LGBT Candidates Make Some History Across U.S.
- Republican Sweep Captures Senate And Some Pro-Gay Governors
- LGBT Veterans Still Denied Equal Federal Benefits
- GLSEN Releases New National School Climate Survey On America's Middle And High Schools
- AIDS/HIV Organizations
- Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services
- Adoption Services
- Family Service & Children's Aid
- Fairlane Ford
- Fraser Bicycle & Fitness
- Health Care Services
- Know Your Health Now
- Martial Arts
- Mejishi Martial Arts
- Moving Companies
- Pet Boarding
- Club Pet Too
- Rental Service
- Suburban Party Rental
- Wine Shop
- Cloverleaf Fine Wine
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Exclusive! 'Looking' Star Russell Tovey On Sex Scenes, His Famous Butt & That Rimming Cake
- Q&A: Andy Cohen On His (Almost) Tell-All Book, 'Nasty' Names Gays Call Him
- Divine Intervention: Bette Midler Talks Early Gay Support, 'Diva' Degradation & Twerking ('Girls, Please!')
- ALERT Missing Person In Metro Detroit
- Creep of the Week: The Duggars
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
A study published in the journal The Lancet HIV reports that there is a significant disparity in HIV prevalence between black and white men who have sex with men. The study was published on Nov. 18 and found a startling 32 percent prevalence rate for black men who have sex with men, compared with only eight percent for white men who have sex with men.View More World AIDS Day
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!