WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama took on a heckler head-on at a gay pride month reception at the White House June 24, scolding the protester for being disrespectful in “my house.”
The heckler, later identified as Jennicet Gutiérrez, interrupted Obama’s remarks by protesting the detention and deportation of gay, lesbian and transgender immigrants.
Gutiérrez is an illegal immigrant transgender activist furious with Obama because of the approach he has taken to reducing deportations of illegal immigrants
The president responded, “Hold on a second.” When Gutiérrez persisted, Obama, flashing an exasperated look, countered, “OK, you know what?” Wagging his finger and shaking his head, Obama said, “No, no, no, no, no,” repeating the word more than a dozen times.
As Gutiérrez continued to talk over him, Obama took it up a notch.
“Hey. Listen. You’re in my house,” he said to laughter and woos from the crowd. “You know what? It’s not respectful when you get invited to somebody. You’re not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this. I’m sorry. I’m sorry … Shame on you, you shouldn’t be doing this.”
Gutiérrez and her group, Familia TQLM, say Obama’s executive order on deportations only protects immigrants who arrived in the country as children or who are parents to U.S. citizens. Speaking to The Daily Caller, Gutiérrez argues that these restrictions are “structured to disproportionately exclude LGBT people because they are substantially less likely to have biological children.”
“What inspired me is that, as the president started to get into the speech and celebration, just knowing that I have spoken to transgender sisters who have been released from detention centers,” Gutiérrez said to The Daily Caller. “The physical and sexual abuse they’re facing on a daily basis made me stand up and send a message to the president.”
Gutiérrez came to the United States illegally as a child. Despite her undocumented status, she said she was still allowed into the White House for the event as the guest of a friend who invited her.
In his remarks, Obama said that regardless of how the Supreme Court rules in an upcoming decision on gay marriage, there has been an undeniable shift in attitudes across the country. He said he’s closely watching the decisions the high court will announce in the coming days, which include a case that could affirm the right of gay couples nationwide to marry.
The president singled out discrimination facing transgender Americans as an area where more progress needs to be made.