Michelle Obama, Heckler Go Almost Face-to-Face at DNC Fundraiser

Image: Michelle Obama, Heckler Go Almost Face-to-Face at DNC Fundraiser

Wednesday, 05 Jun 2013 01:07 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Michelle Obama didn't take kindly to a heckler who interrupted her speech at a private fundraiser Tuesday evening.

The first lady speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser, when a woman began shouting support for an executive order on gay and lesbian rights from the audience, according to ABC News.

Multiple media outlets reported that Obama responded, "One of the things I don't do well is this," generating loud approval from the attendees.

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Obama then approached the woman, later identified as Ellen Sturtz, and reportedly told her, "(You can) listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice."

The crowd implored Obama to stay and the heckler was quickly silenced. One woman reportedly yelled to Sturtz, "You need to go."

Sturtz, 56, was later escorted from the event.

An activist for the pro-LGBT rights group, "GetEQUAL," she told the Huffington Post that she didn't plan on interrupting Mrs. Obama at the event.

The event was held at the home of Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer, lesbians who married in Vancouver in 2008. Guests paid between $500 and $10,000 to be there. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sturtz donated $5,000 to the DNC and Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

"I want to talk about the children," she told the Huffington Post. "I want to talk about the LGBT young people who are ... being told, directly and indirectly, that they're second-class citizens. I'm tired of it."

She said Obama came pretty close to her, and was disappointed in her response.

"It felt like she was within a few inches – in my face," Sturtz told ABC News after the incident. "Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, and I can't be quiet any longer. ... I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing."

Sturtz, a self-described "old, grey-haired lesbian," was one of four protesters at the fundraiser. One other heckler interrupted Democratic National Committee chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, D-Fla., during her opening remarks.

One attendee told ABC News that the audience thought Obama handled the situation well.

"It got a little loud, generally," that person said. "People were, in a way, excited that the first lady was addressing the situation in that way. People were cheering her on. She was clearly not happy, and I don't think she had an intention to actually leave the fundraiser. She knew she was getting back on stage. She just wanted to be respected."

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Obama isn't the only member of her family to be heckled. President Barack Obama was famously heckled during a September 2009 joint session of Congress, when U.S. Representative Joe Wilson shouted, "You lie!" The incident resulted in a formal reprimand by the House of Representatives.

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