The look on President Obama's face says it all. Six protesters with GetEqual.org were escorted by the Secret Service out of President Obama's Los Angeles fundraiser for Sen. Barbara Boxer after heckling the President. The protesters were removed—below and bottom of page—after "repeatedly interrupting" the President's speech and heckling "What about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell!”
THE PRESIDENT: We are going to do that. Hey, hold on a second, hold on a second. We are going to do that.
AUDIENCE: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
THE PRESIDENT: Here we go. All right -- guys, guys, all right. I agree, I agree, I agree. (Applause.) Now --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, no, listen. What the young man was talking about was we need to -- we need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don't Tell,” which I agree with and which we have begun to do. (Applause.) But let me say this: When you’ve got an ally like Barbara Boxer and you’ve got an ally like me who are standing for the same thing, then you don't know exactly why you’ve got to holler, because we already hear you, all right? (Applause.) I mean, it would have made more sense to holler that at the people who oppose it. (Applause.)
Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP ...
Secret Service photo via GetEQUAL FLICKR ...
Overnight, it was the lead story on the Huffington Post. Screen capture HERE ...
After the initial interruptions the President quickly diffused the situation by standing next to Boxer:
THE PRESIDENT: I just wanted to confirm -- I just checked with Barbara, so if anybody else is thinking about starting a chant, Barbara didn’t even vote for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the first place, so you know she’s going to be in favor of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” (Applause.)
The activists are with GetEQUAL, who staged a March 18th sit-in at Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco and Capitol Hill offices to protest the lack of action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). On that same day, Lt. Dan Choi, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo and GetEQUAL's Robin McGehee were arrested during civil disobedience actions at the White House to call attention to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The charges were dropped against the Pelosi protesters. Choi plead not guilty and asked for a trial which has been scheduled for April 26.
The Obama confrontation comes on the same day Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, wrote the President and expressed concerns after hearing "multiple reports" from Capitol Hill that the White House Congressional Liaison Office is urging members to delay a DADT repeal vote. Last week, the White House issued a statement by an "unnamed source" that denied similar reports on DADT repeal delay by AMERICAblog.
Rep. Barney Frank, the longest serving openly gay member of Congress, was also quoted today by The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld as saying he hasn't "talked to the White House about" DADT repeal in months.
Gay rights demonstrations at the President's California fundraisers are becoming routine. Last May, up to 300 LGBT activists protested the lack of action shown by Democrats, Congress and the White House.
The interruptions begin at 2:00, watch AFTER THE JUMP ...