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Fired gay soldier to fight dismissal ‘tooth and nail’

Jessica Geen May 8, 2009
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Dan Choi, the US Army lieutenant who was fired after revealing he was gay, has said he will fight his dismissal “tooth and nail”.

Choi, a West Point graduate and Arabic linguist, came out live on the Rachel Maddow show in March, knowing it could cost him his job.

This week, he received a letter dismissing him for “homosexual conduct”.

The letter stated: “This is to inform you that sufficient basis exists to initiate action for withdrawal of Federal Recognition in the Army National Guard for moral or professional dereliction.

“Specifically you admitted publicly that you are a homosexual, which constitutes homosexual conduct. Your actions negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard.”

Reappearing on the Rachel Maddow show last night, he spoke of his anger at the “insult” to his unit.

He said: “Well, when I got the letter, I was extremely angry. I was angry – I mean, the letter is basically saying bottom line, Lieutenant Dan Choi, you’re fired. You’re a West Point graduate, you’re fired. You’re an Arabic linguist, you’re fired. You deployed to Iraq, you’re willing to deploy again, doesn’t matter. Because you’re gay, that’s enough grounds to kick you out.

“But the biggest thing that I’m angry about is what it says about my unit. It says that my unit suffered negative good order — negative actions — good order and discipline suffered. That’s a big insult to my unit.

“I mean, all the insult that the letter can do, to say that I’m worthy of being fired, you know, that’s nothing comparing to saying that my unit is not professional enough, that my unit does not deserve to have a leader that is willing to deploy, that has skills to contribute.

“I intend fully to fight it tooth and nail. I believe that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is wrong, and what we really need to be encouraging soldiers to do is to don’t lie, don’t hide, don’t discriminate, and don’t weaken the military. That’s what we need to be promoting.”

Maddow also interviewed Democrat Congressman Joe Sestak, a retired US Navy rear admiral and the highest-ranking former military officer to serve in Congress.

Sestak called on President Obama to move fast to lift the military gay ban, saying: “This is the commander in chief’s decision to say we need to change it, which he has.”

He added that he believed the ban could be lifted by this summer.

Around 12,500 servicemembers have been ejected since the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy’s introduction in 1994, including 60 Arabic linguists.

Speaking to last month, Choi said the firing of a number of military personnel for being gay may have undermined the government’s potential to prevent the September 11th bombings.

He said: “On Monday, September 10th 2001, a message was intercepted by the State Department: tomorrow is zero hour.

“Despite its simplicity, nobody was able to translate it. Any of the dozens of linguists already discharged for being gay at the time would have done so easily.”

Choi is also a founding member of the Knights Out organisation, which is campaiging to have the ban lifted.

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