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Activist Dan Choi – LGBT History Month Day 8

Activist Dan Choi – LGBT History Month Day 8

 

On the surface, Dan Choi’s military career progressed in an exemplary but relatively ordinary way. He graduated from West Point with Arabic language skills that made him valuable to the Army. He volunteered for duty in Iraq. He was a dedicated soldier. After serving in the army, he joined the Army National Guard.

That was 2008, the year Choi decided it was time to open the closet door. With other West Point alumni, staff and faculty, he helped found Knights Out to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers who wanted to preserve their identity while serving their country. At the time, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) was still forcing people to hide their sexual identity if they wanted to stay in the military.

In March 2009, Choi spoke three, career-ending words on the Rachel Maddow show: “I am gay.” The long arm of DADT swiftly hammered him. The U.S. Army sent him a letter that said, in part, “Your actions negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard.”

None of Choi’s fellow soldiers accused the lieutenant of hitting on them so improper conduct was not at issue. The only thing the Army charged Choi with was being honest about who he was.

Choi did not go quietly. The injustice of his dismissal galvanized him. Three times he was arrested outside the White House for participating in protests against DADT. He became a confident and articulate spokesman for abolishing the policy. When DADT was repealed, Choi was invited to the White House to witness President Obama’s signing the bill.

Unfortunately, that was not the end of his struggle. He is still fighting federal charges for protesting in front of the White House last November. While most people arrested for minor acts of civil disobedience receive nothing more punishing than a few hours in jail and a warning, Choi and some of his fellow protestors earned the wrath of the Department of Justice. They were told if they refused to admit guilt, they would end up with a permanent adult criminal record.

Choi refused to admit his conduct was disorderly. He and his fellow protesters had simply chained themselves to the fence and chanted, “I am somebody. I deserve full equality.” They were not even obstructing the sidewalk. They were simply exercising their right to free speech.

The Department of Justice refuses to back down unless he admits guilt. So Choi’s court fight will continue until the punitive charges are dropped and the young man is allowed his wish, to resume service to his country.

 

Bibliography

  • “Keith Boykin, Author, Beyond the Down Low.” Gothamist. 8 June 2011.
  • “Keith Boykin – TV Host/Author/Speaker.” Keith Boykin. 8 June 2011.
  • Malmgren, Jeanne. “The way he sees it.” St. Petersburg Times OnlineSt. Petersburg Times. 8 June 2011.

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For Care2′s complete daily coverage of LGBT history month, click here.

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28 comments

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10:21AM PDT on Oct 12, 2011

Very many military men and women have sacrificed to gain the freedom to be of service....the effort stated in the 70's, I believe.

10:56AM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

Scary to see non-hateful free speech under threat lie this.

Wake up, Americans. If they silence him because they don't like what he says, one day they can come after you if you dare disagree with policy.

Look at all those countries where people are always punished for saying anything the ruling powers dont like, charged with "insulting the republic" or "threatening public order".

You don't want to become more like them.

6:00AM PDT on Oct 11, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:14AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

thanks for keeping us informed

12:45PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

noted.

11:52AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

Dan Choi is a true American Hero - for acts performed for our freedoms, and for those to create the freedoms the rest of us enjoy, for the military who have had to serve, living a lie, for far too long. The DoJ is WAAAY out of line, here. They just want a shipping boy, and since Choi has been one of the most vocal, they've pick him. After all, he doesn't have an "American-sounding name."

11:14AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

What a wonderful example of strenght, courage, bravery, and americanism at it's best.

11:05AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

The U.S. government should give Dan Choi a medal and an apology, and quit persecuting him.

10:49AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

Choi is a hero is sooooooooooo many ways!

10:02AM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

As a veteran, I really admire Choi. I checked out his service record, and it's excellent.
Every unit I ever served with had at least one gay person in it, and I don't recall any problems arising. Civilians should shut up and grow up.

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