Michelle Obama goes head-to-head with LGBT heckler (AUDIO)


US First Lady Michelle Obama speaks about the Joining Forces hiring initiative for military veterans and spouses in civilian jobs during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington on April 30, 2013.


Saul Loeb

Michelle Obama offered to hand over the microphone and leave when a heckler interrupted her during a Democratic fundraising speech on Tuesday.

The First Lady was halfway into her planned speech in the backyard of a private home when a protester interrupted and demanded that President Barack Obama sign an executive order on gay rights.

"One of the things I don't do well is this," Obama said before walking down from the lectern and approaching the protester, according to Huffington Post pool reporter Amanda Terkel.

Obama then invited the woman, later identified as Ellen Sturtz of the pro-LGBT rights group GetEQUAL, to "listen to me, or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice."

Sturtz, who said she paid $500 to attend the fundraiser, was then escorted out, saying she wanted "federal equality before I die."

"So let me make the point that I was making before," continued Obama after the protester left.

"We are here for our kids. So we must recapture that passion. That same urgency and energy that we felt back in 2008, 2012. Understand this — this is what I want you all to understand. This is not about us. No one back here. It's not about you or you or your issue or your thing. This is about our children," the pool report read.

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Obama's suggestion that she would leave was not included in the official White House transcript.

Sturtz, 56, later told the Washington Post that she was surprised the First Lady "came right down in my face."

Sturtz also told the newspaper that she tried to take Obama up on her offer of taking the microphone but that the First Lady seemed flustered.

"I said I want your husband to sign the executive order," Sturtz told the Washington Post. "Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country."

Many gay, lesbian and transgender rights groups have been upset at the Obama administration for failing to follow through on a campaign promise to sign the order, which would ban federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Several prominent Democratic donors told Reuters last month that they were pulling their financial support from the party.

Gay-rights supporters are also upset that immigration benefits for same sex couples was dropped from the compromise version of immigration reform that passed out of committee on May 21.

Rachel Tiven, the executive director of the gay rights group Immigration Equality, told Reuters that numerous donors she has spoken to are "very, very angry" and will stop supporting the party financially.

"They don't expect that the support for gay rights is theoretical," she told Reuters.