In reaction to a federal court decision that struck down the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, or DADT, policy — at least temporarily – Pentagon officials have instructed military recruiters to begin enlisting openly gay and lesbian people in the armed services.
Hours after this announcement, former Liuetenant Dan Choi — the West Point graduate who was discharged from active duty after he came out as gay on the Rachel Maddow Show in 2009 — announced via his Twitter feed his intention to re-enlist, this time in the Marines and as an openly gay man.
One of fifty-nine Arabic translators to be discharged under DADT since 2004, Choi has become one of the most recognizable and vocal opponents of the government policy. In March, Choi and Jim Pietrangelo, another officer discharged for publicly acknowledging his homosexuality, chained themselves to the White House fence in protest of DADT and were subsequently arrested. Following his official discharge in June 2010, Choi wrote an open letter to President Obama and the United States Congress calling DADT “a slap in the face” to gay service members wanting to defend their country.
Choi arrived at the New York City Times Square military recruitment station a little before 4pm on Tuesday. Surrounded by supporters and reporters, the former officer knocked on the door for fourteen minutes before being allowed to enter. An hour later, he tweeted:
In the recruiting station. Apparently I’m too old for the Marines! Just filled out the Army application.
At 6:45 pm, Choi emerged from the recruiting statement and announced he had been allowed to re-enlist in the Army, pending routine medical tests and paperwork. He called the event “absolutely exciting, absolutely vindicating” and encouraged other gay former service members to come back to the military.
However, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-organization that provides legal services to individuals impacted by DADT, urged continued caution. SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, “The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law is rooted in any statement of homosexuality made at anytime and to anyone. A higher court is likely to issue a hold on the injunction by Judge Phillips very soon. The bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon.”
Per the Pentagon’s instructions, Choi was advised that the current injunction barring the enforcement of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” could be rescinded at any time and the policy could once again be enforced.
We will update you as more information becomes available.