First Lady’s Heckler: I Spoke up for Millions of LGBT Americans

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 8 2013 12:24 PM

First Lady’s Heckler: I Spoke up for Millions of LGBT Americans

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Michelle Obama delivers the commencement speech during the Bowie State University graduation ceremony at the University of Maryland

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When Michelle Obama was interrupted by a heckler during a fundraiser Wednesday, it quickly became evident she isn’t as good at handling shouters as her husband, who, time and again has demonstrated his ability to turn hecklers to his advantage. The first lady recognized as much: “One of the things I don’t do well is this,” she said. (Watch footage of the confrontation here.)

Today, the Washington Post gives the heckler space to explain why she felt the need to interrupt the first lady. Ellen Sturtz writes that she is disappointed President Obama hasn’t fulfilled two key promises that would protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community from workplace discrimination. “As a gray-haired, 56-year-old lesbian, I don’t have time to wait another generation for equality,” Sturtz writes. The retired public servant says her interruption was a “spontaneous reaction” to one of Obama’s statements:

Some have said it was disrespectful for a white woman to interrupt an African American woman, or for an activist to interrupt the first lady. All I can say is that in that moment, I could no longer remain silent while standing in front of one of our country’s most powerful political figures. I spoke up for the millions of LGBT Americans who have to make small and excruciating choices each day about the extent to which they are able to live safe and honest lives.
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Read the full op-ed here.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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