The LGBT activist who heckled Michelle Obama at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser says she just “couldn’t stay silent any longer.”
GetEQUAL activist Ellen Sturtz interrupted the first lady Tuesday night to call for the Obama administration to sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living,” said Sturtz said in a statement released early Wednesday morning. “I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our childrens’ [sic] 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,” she added.
During the 2008 Democratic primary, Obama said he supported “formal written policy of non-discrimination that includes sexual orientation and gender identity or expression … for all Federal contractors,” according to Metro Weekly, a Washington, D.C.-based gay magazine.
GetEQUAL and other advocacy organizations have been lobbying the Obama administration an executive order.
Sturtz’s actions Tuesday night appeared to rankle the first lady, who threatened to leave if Sturtz did not stop interrupting her.
“One of the things that I don’t do well is this,” the first lady said when Sturtz interrupted. “Do you understand?” (TheDC MORNING: Don’t you dare protest Michelle Obama)
In a portion of the event not included in the official White House transcript, the White House pool reported that Obama then “left the lectern and moved over to the protester,” and quoted Obama as telling her “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
Of the interaction with the first lady Sturtz told The Washington Post in an interview Tuesday night that “[Obama] came right down in my face,” Sturtz said. “I was taken aback.”
The Post also reported that Sturtz said when Obama offered the microphone, Sturtz told Obama that she would take it.
“I said I want your husband to sign the executive order,” Sturtz told the Post. “Her husband could sign this order tonight and protect 22 percent of the work force in this country.”
According to the pool report, Sturtz was eventually escorted out of the room while shouting, “…lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.”