Lt. Dan Choi arrested during DADT protest
Just outside the White House today, openly gay Iraq veteran Lt. Dan Choi and others were arrested while marching to the White House after a Human Rights Campaign rally. No word yet if group members will be getting quick loans to bail out Lt. Dan Choi or the other arrested individuals. The group was marching on the White House in support of repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that discharges openly gay men and women from the military.
Lt. Dan Choi arrested
Lt. Dan Choi was arrested earlier today by the United States Park Police, and he and Jim Pietrangelo were charged with failure to obey a lawful order. Both Lt. Choi and Pietrangelo are scheduled to appear in the D.C. Superior court tomorrow. Both Lt. Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo are openly gay. Pietrangelo has been discharged from the military under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; Lt. Choi’s discharge is “pending.”
Lt. Dan Choi has been outspoken against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Lt. Dan Choi originally revealed his sexual orientation on “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Soon after that show, he received a discharge letter from the U.S. Military. His open letter to the President and Congress made international headlines. Since then, Lt. Dan Choi was one of the founding members of Knights Out, an organization of West Point alumni who support LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) members of the military being able to serve openly. Lt. Choi has also spoken at numerous gay rights events.
The history of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
The policy that Lt. Dan Choi and other protesters were marching against today is referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Officially federal law Pub.L. 103-160, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell prevents any openly gay person from serving in the U.S. military while allowing closeted LGBT individuals to continue serving.
The current military loans several hundred gay servicemen and servicewomen time to complete their service, as long as they do not reveal their sexual orientation. As the New York Times reported earlier this month, a bill has been presented in Congress that would repeal this policy and allow openly gay members of the military to continue serving their country. The U.S. Military is currently conducting a review in conjunction with congressional hearings on the issue.
Lt. Dan Choi’s arrest started at a Human Rights Campaign rally
The march that Lt. Dan Choi led to the White House today was not pre-planned. According to The Advocate, Choi reportedly crashed a Human Rights Campaign rally and asked attendees to march with him to the White House. The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, did not join in the march. The HRC did release a statement about Lt. Dan Choi’s arrest:
“Today more than 1,000 people showed up at a rally — 500 of which signed up to become more involved in the fight to repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ Joe Solmonese along with (gay Iraq war veteran) Eric Alva and others felt it was important to stay and engage those at the rally in ways they can continue building the pressure needed for repeal. This does nothing to diminish the actions taken by Lt. Choi and others. This is the nature of social change and everyone has a role to play.”