US Army Lt Dan Choi chained himself to the White House fence on Thursday afternoon to protest over the ban on out gay soldiers.
The Iraq veteran interrupted a rally organised by comedian Kathy Griffin and Human Rights Campaign at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC.
Some reports said he had asked to speak at the rally but his request was rejected, despite him being one of the most profilic faces of the campaign against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Robin McGehee, from Get Equal and the co-organiser of the National Equality March, claimed that Lt Choi was rebuffed by HRC president Joe Solmonese, who said the event was “Griffin’s rally”.
Ms Griffin was filming events for her television series and began a speech with some jokes.
Towleroad.com reports that Lt Choi told Ms Griffin that the issue was “not a joke” and urged the crowd to follow him down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
Around 50 people are estimated to have followed to watch Lt Choi and Captain Jim Pietrangelo chain themselves to the White House fence.
As the crowd chanted “Keep your promise Obama”, Secret Service agents put up a barrier around the pair and they were freed and then arrested and bundled into a van.
Ms McGehee was also arrested, although it is not clear why.
Lt Choi is said to have asked Ms Griffin and Mr Solmonese to accompany him to the White House but they did not.
A statement from HRC released later in the afternoon said: “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 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.”
Photos at Towleroad.com.