A speech by US First Lady Michelle Obama at a Democratic Party fundraising event was briefly interrupted last night by a gay rights campaigner.

Mrs Obama was speaking in Washington when a woman in the crowd started shouting, demanding an executive order for the extension of gay rights.

“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” Mrs Obama said before walking down from the lectern and approaching the protester, according to a pool reporter covering the event.

“Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving.”

The crowd urged Mrs Obama to stay, and the woman was then escorted out.

The protester was later identified as Ellen Sturtz, a member of the GetEQUAL organisation.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, she said: “I was asked by the First Lady to be quiet, and I can’t be quiet any longer.

“I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing.”

She said campaigners had been asking President Obama to sign an executive order for five years. “How much longer do we need to wait?”

In February, 37 US Senators urged President Obama to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees.

The legislation has been stuck in the US Congress for years, but it could be implemented by Mr Obama.

However, the White House has repeatedly said it prefers a legislative approach to protecting LGBT workers against discrimination rather than using an executive order.

Current federal law bans discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin but does not stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire a worker based on sexual orientation.