Considering the mixed reviews regarding LGBT protestor Ellen Sturtz interruption of Michelle Obama, as she spoke at a Democratic Party fundraiser, and considering the general focus of much of it, the question being asked initially was more about heckler rudeness than about a POTUS failure to act. More of the latter is showing up, and that’s a very good thing.
At AmericaBlogGay, John Aravosis adds another piece of information. The event at which the incident occurred was the home of a lesbian couple. From Aravosis:
In my piece about this (Wednesday) … , 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.
The questions are more complex than this, but as an observation of how the discussion has gone, it’s accurate. Which is more harmful: rude heckling or failure to act on promises of equality? The truth is, of course, there are overlapping concerns, largely around which tactics and strategies are most effective. “Rude heckling” is seen by lots of people as counter to efforts to get the promise kept. At the same time, though, relying on DC Insider methods hasn’t moved the president on his promise. To me, it really is as basic as this: different tactics and methods are generally necessary in making progress toward equality. That doesn’t require us to agree with all of them.
Ellen Sturtz had every right to do what she did. Michelle Obama had every right to do what she did. Critics and supporters of either or both have every right to voice their thoughts, and to choose their advocacy methods.
Does Barack Obama have every right to ignore a promise he made? At least practically speaking, as campaigner and Elected, our political system basically gives him just such a “right,” as in, unless forced to do so, most Electeds feel free to ignore promises.
We have people and organizations who play an Inside game, and we have people like Ellen Sturtz and organizations like GetEqual who play outside the pre-approved lines. And this is very important – we have people and organizations that do some of each; who recognize there is no “one size fits all” approach.
At LGBTQ Nation, Barbara Weicksel writes, The heckling lesbian — lending credence that we’re crazy gay activists pushing our gay agenda.
I understand that there are two ways of seeing this. There is the side who believe that the only way to make change for the LGBTQ community is to be loud and in the face of anyone who can help generating any sort of positive change.
Then there is the side who believe Ms. Sturtz’s behavior was rude and uncalled for.
My thoughts: there are more than two, either/or sides. It’s more complex than that.
Why Michelle Obama got heckled, by LZ Granderson.
Heckling Mrs. Obama wasn’t fair to her.
But taking the LGBT community for granted isn’t fair to us either.
At my earlier, related post regular TM commenter secularhumanizinevoluter offered this analysis: “They both were right.” Sec wasn’t alone in reaching that succinct but, I think, accurate conclusion.
Jonathan Capehart, at the Washington Post, wrote:
The heckler — and FLOTUS — were right
First lady Michelle Obama wasn’t having it — and I don’t blame her. Lesbian activist Ellen Sturtz wasn’t having it — and, well, I don’t blame her, either.
At AmericaBlogGay John Aravosis concludes his analysis:
Someone quite “decided” is Ian Welsh, who writes Heckling Mrs. Obama is entirely productive.
Why should Obama, or any politician, or any oligarch, give you anything if you can’t hurt them, or help them, and won’t make not hurting them, or helping them, conditional on them doing what you want? You think you can reason ethically with them?
LGBT actions toward pushing President Obama on things like the repeal of DADT and DOMA have included DC Insider efforts, including withholding campaign donations, as well as GetEqual efforts, like LGBT veterans chaining themselves to the fence in front of the White House.
Mr. Obama continues to reiterate his support of the broader, inclusive Employment Non-discrimination Act. But regarding the executive order Ellen Sturtz mentions; the order that would provide employment protections for LGBT federal contractors; the order candidate Obama promised he would act on … the Obama administration continues to speak in general support, minus any details or even indication it’s on his agenda.
My guess is that the actions of GetEqual and Sturtz both helped and hurt efforts toward equality. But of course, that’s often the case with every tactic or strategy. Working the Inside game has the same mixed results. It’s sort of an advocacy version of “good cop, bad cop.” It’s also much more complicated than that, and you can bet seasoned advocates know that.
One thing the “heckling” did was draw attention to ENDA and the executive order. One way to follow-up on that is through the efforts of Freedom to Work,
… a national organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis, and legal work.
You can see and sign a petition – President Obama: Sign the Executive Order Adding LGBT Workplace Protections to Millions of American Jobs – here.
(Freedom To Work Obama Time Line Via FreedomToWorkFB)