Video of Mrs. Obama being confronted by gay protester

CNN has the video of Mrs. Obama being confronted by a gay rights protester Tuesday night at an event at a lesbian couple’s home in Georgetown.

The protest was to raise awareness of the President’s earlier promise to sign an executive order banning job discrimination by federal contractors against gay and trans people.  There has been no sign of any movement on that issue, and the White House routinely tries to shift questions about the executive order to a discussion of passing ENDA in the Congress, which will never happen with a Republican US House, so it’s a deflection into doing nothing.

Here’s the video, then some discussion.

In my piece about this yesterday, I admitted to being equivocal about the protest – mostly because it wasn’t clear to me that this approach was the smartest way to advance an executive order banning job discrimination by federal contractors against gay and trans people.

Now that I know that this fundraiser was at the home of a lesbian couple, the protest – a gay protest – becomes a lot more relevant.  Though you still have the question of whether it’s appropriate to protest the First Lady, and whether it’s productive.

On those questions, LZ Granderson wrote an interesting piece for CNN.com in which he defends the protest. Among other things of interest, Granderson is African-American. That matters because some of the criticism of those who heckled Mrs. Obama was that a white protester was heckling a black woman. So for a black man to defend the protest is relevant and interesting.

Granderson really wrote a great piece.

I’m a big fan of Michelle Obama’s, but if she’s going to be hitting the circuit to raise money for Democrats, she has to be prepared for heckling. Especially heckling from gay rights activists like the one who interrupted her speech Tuesday night.

“Lesbian looking for federal equality before I die.” That’s how Ellen Sturtz, the woman identified as the heckler, identified herself.

Apparently the first lady’s husband said something about signing an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sturtz had the nerve to ask the president to keep his word….

Still President Barack Obama made a promise: It’s not unreasonable to expect him to keep it.

mrs-obama-hecklerGranderson then talks about how Democrats in Illinois didn’t follow through on their promises to pass marriage equality in that state.  And interestingly, Granderson singled out the Illinois House black caucus for particular blame (I got criticized by some the other day for noting the same).

Granderson concludes with a riff about Democrats in the Senate throwing gays under the bus in the immigration bill:

But Democrats have trampled on that promise before, and fairly recently.

In 2009, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said he supported marriage for same-sex couples. But he recently opposed an amendment to the immigration reform bill that would have included same-sex couples because he thought it would make Republicans kill the bill. The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t even want to vote on it. Basically Schumer wants same-sex couples to get married in his home state — but if you’re binational, he’ll let the government deport your spouse.

So the LGBT community gets tossed under the bus — again — as if our families are not worth voting for. As if we don’t deserve a public record of which Democrat is for us and which is against us.

Heckling Mrs. Obama wasn’t fair to her.

But taking the LGBT community for granted isn’t fair to us either.

It’s a powerful piece.  But what was interesting to me was that GetEqual’s protest struck a chord with someone outside of gay politics, who one might have considered sympathetic to Mrs. Obama.  I didn’t expect that.  I also didn’t expect the overwhelming publicity the protest received after the fact.  Certainly that publicity helped to educate people on the ENDA issue.

In the end, I stick by what I wrote.  The only reason to do a protest is to move the ball forward on issues you care about.  I was initially worried that this protest didn’t do that.  Now, I’m back in the undecided column. What do you think?


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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