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Activist disrupts Michelle Obama speech
by Jean Albright, Windy City Times
2013-06-05

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Former Chicagoans Nan Schaffer and Karen Dixon are in the spotlight again for an event they hosted in their Washington, D.C., home June 4. It was a benefit for the Democratic National Committee. First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, were among the guests.

During Michelle Obama's speech, lesbian activist Ellen Sturtz, who paid $500 to attend the event, interrupted her as part of an ongoing effort to pressure President Obama to sign an executive order banning LGBT workplace discrimination.

There were varied reports in the media about the confrontation. The Washington Post said Obama approached the activist and said she would leave if the person did not stop interrupting her.

The media pool report gives this comment from Obama: "One of the things that I don't do well is this. Do you understand? ... Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I'm leaving. You all decide. You have one choice." But the Post said the media pool report issued by the White House left out the statement that she would leave if protesters did not let her speak. The other guests sided with Obama and the protester was escorted out.

A statement was issued June 3 by Sturtz, who is from Washington, D.C., and her fellow GetEqual group members—Autumn Leaf of Ohio; Wooten Gough of North Carolina; and Amy Vesper of New Mexico: "LGBT people in North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio and all over the country are dehumanized in our jobs, and we are forced into the closet in order to participate in the American dream. We value the First Lady's leadership and invite her to lead the charge within the Democratic Party to end employment discrimination. President Obama has an executive order sitting on his desk that can protect a quarter of the labor force in the U.S. from workplace discrimination, we will continue engaging leaders in the Administration and the Democratic Party until President Obama fulfills a promise to our community made five years ago."

Event co-host Nan Schaffer is a minority shareholder of the Windy City Times.

Caption: Karen Dixon (left) and Nan Schaffer at their 2008 marriage celebration at the Drake Hotel in Chicago. They were legally married in Vancouver, Canada prior to the ceremony. Photo by Joel Schachtel


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