First Lady Michelle Obama was interrupted Tuesday evening during her speech at a DNC Fundraiser by an LGBT activist who was demanding equality for lesbians and gays. Later after the event and after being escorted out Ellen Sturtz, 56 in an interview with the Huffington Post, said that she did not intend to interrupt Mrs. Obama during her speech but after the first lady continued to ask for the audience to make the country a better place. Ellen Sturtz decided then to take the opportunity to speak up on matters of the LGBT community.
“I want to talk about the children. 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. They’re suffering. We’ve been asking president to sign that ENDA executive order for five years. How much longer do we need to wait?” Ms. Sturtz continued.
Ellen says she donated to President Obama’s campaign in 2008 due in large part because she believed that he would fight to end workplace discrimination against the LGBT community. Now, she and many other LGBT activists are fighting to get equal rights for the LGBT community including equal protections in the workplace and for President Obama to sign an executive order that will bar discrimination by federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Still, no such executive order has come down and many LGBT groups are left disappointed as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA,) a bill that would prohibit such discrimination in hiring more broadly remains stuck in Congress.
It had only been 12 minutes into Mrs. Obama’s speech when Ellen Sturtz a divorced lesbian interrupted the first lady begging for an executive order that would give the LGBT community equal rights in the workplace.
Mrs. Obama then stopped her speech, saying, “One of the things that I don’t do well is this. Listen to me, or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
Michelle at one point left the lectern but the audience begin to call for Mrs. Obama to stay and afterwards Ellen Sturtz was escorted out and First Lady Michelle Obama continued on with her speech.
Later Sturtz told the Huffington Post, “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. She obviously thought she was going to make an example of me or something. I wasn’t scared at all.”
First Lady Michelle Obama during her speech urged donors to back President Obama’s agenda as the coming elections approached and to help the Democrats take back the House. Mrs. Obama in her speech was quoted as saying, “That is why it is simply not enough to just elect a president every four years. We need you to be engaged in every election — every election — because special elections matter. Mid-term elections really matter. It matters who we send to Congress. It matters. And if you don’t believe me, just look at the record. Look at the difference just a few votes in Congress can make when it comes to the issues that we say we care about.”
In America there are 29 states in which lesbian and gay Americans can be fired just for being who they are, and in 34 states transgender Americans can be fired for being who they are.
In Utah a change is occurring and recently during Utah’s Pride celebration for it’s LGBT community, attendees were able to talk to Human Rights Campaign volunteers about Utah’s Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA.) ENDA will be voted on later this year by the Utah Senate and Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is a key vote.
National polls continue to show strong support in prohibiting employment discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace including in the state of Utah.
To tell your Congress person or Senator to pass ENDA or for more information on ENDA, please visit: www.passendanow.org
-Kelly J Newson