Michelle Obama Stares Down Heckler at a Fundraiser

Michelle Obama isn't quite as tolerant of hecklers as her husband is, if a late Tuesday confrontation is any indication.

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Michelle Obama isn't quite as tolerant of hecklers as her husband is, if a late Tuesday confrontation is any indication. Obama, speaking at a private fundraiser in Northwest Washington, was interrupted by Ellen Sturtz, who wanted the First Lady to get the president to sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination.

According to a pool report from the Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel, Sturtz's interruption began halfway through Obama's 20-minute speech. Obama, interrupted, paused, and proceeded to confront Sturtz face-to-face:

"One of the things I don't do well is this," replied FLOTUS to loud applause. She left the lectern and moved over to the protester, saying they could "listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice." 

Crowd started shouting that they wanted FLOTUS to stay. 

"You need to go!" said one woman near the protester. 

The protester was then escorted out, shouting "...lesbian looking for federal equality before I die." (First part of the quote was inaudible.) Pool could not get their name before they were taken out. 

According Terkel's interview with Sturtz after the fundraiser, the activist's outburst was impromptu. And, Sturtz added, she was startled by Obama's response: "Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, and I can't be quiet any longer," Sturtz said, adding, "she obviously thought she was going to make an example of me or something. I wasn't scared at all." The Washington Post had more description from Sturtz of the incident: "She came right down in my face...I was taken aback."

But the protest wasn't completely off-the-cuff. Sturtz said that she attended the fundraiser with the intention of confronting DNC officials after the First Lady's speech, along with other members of GetEqual, a pro-LGBT rights group with a history of publicly confronting the president.

Notably, the confrontation isn't spelled out in the official transcript of the First Lady's speech. Sturtz's interjection is simply written off as "inaudible:" 

And I don’t care what you believe in, we don’t --

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Wait, wait, wait.  One of the things --

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  (Inaudible.) 

MRS. OBAMA:  One of the things that I don’t do well is this.  (Applause.)  Do you understand?  (Applause.)  One of the things -- now -- 

(Inaudible audience interruption.)

Because the confrontation happened at a private event, there's apparently no video readily available of the whole episode. We'll have to wait and see if one emerges. 

UPDATE (8:14 a.m.): Still no video, but The Washington Post has some (garbled) audio of the confrontation.

UPDATE (4:55 p.m.): And CNN has some video.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.