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US gay soldiers will face trial over White House protest

Jessica Geen March 22, 2010
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Two out gay soldiers who chained themselves to the White House fence in a protest against the military gay ban will go on trial next month.

Lt Dan Choi and Captain Jim Pietrangelo were both charged with failure to comply with a lawful order by a police officer and opted for trial rather than pleading guilty.

They hijacked a protest in Washington DC last Thursday organised by Kathy Griffin and Human Rights Campaign, leading demonstrators to the White House where they chained themselves to the fence.

The pair were then arrested and spent Thursday night in the cells. They appeared in court the following day.

They cannot be jailed if found guilty of the charge but could be fined up to $1,000. Their trial will be held on April 26th.

Lt Choi is an Arabic linguist and a West Point graduate. He was recommended for discharge last year after announcing he was gay on television, although this has not yet been finalised.

Captain Pietrangelo, now a lawyer, was discharged for being gay in 2004.

The pair argue that President Barack Obama is not moving fast enough to lift the ban on out gay servicemembers. He promised he would repeal the law in his 2008 election campaign.

Under the current law, gay and lesbian soldiers must keep their sexual orientation secret. They can be fired if they, or someone else, reveals it.

Senate hearings on repeal began last month, although the process is expected to take at least a year.

Related topics: Americas

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