Michelle Obama refused to yield to a gay-rights protester who heckled her at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington on Tuesday.
Obama was 12 minutes into a planned 20-minute speech at a couple’s home when a woman standing at the front of the small crowd interrupted, demanding that President Barack Obama sign an executive order on gay rights.
“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” the first lady said before walking down from the lectern and approaching the protester, according to a pool reporter covering the event.
Mrs. Obama told the woman that people gathered in the backyard tent could “listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving,” before telling the crowd, “You all decide. You have one choice.”
At that, the crowd began chanting for Obama to stay as one woman told the protester, “You need to leave.” The woman was escorted out, shouting that she was a “lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.”
Obama then returned to the lectern and finished her speech, getting loud applause as she did.
Those in attendance, apparently including the protester, had paid $500 to $10,000 for tickets to the event, which was held at the home of power couple Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer.
The heckler was identified as Ellen Sturtz, an activist with the GetEQUAL campaign group, which campaigns for lesbian and gay rights, by several media. Sturtz told The Washington Post that she was surprised by the first lady’s actions.
“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz said. “I was taken aback.”