Current Affairs

Gay soldier Dan Choi arrested again at White House

Jessica Geen April 21, 2010
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Gay US soldier Dan Choi and five other people in uniform chained themselves to the White House fence yesterday to protest the military’s ban on out gay soldiers.

Lt Choi was arrested last month for a similar stunt, when he and Captain Jim Pietrangelo chained themselves to a fence after hijacking a Human Rights Campaign march.

They were both charged with failure to comply with a lawful order by a police officer and opted for trial rather than pleading guilty.

Yesterday’s protest saw Lt Choi and Capt Pietrangelo joined by Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cadet Mara Boyd and Cpl Evelyn Thomas.

Ms Sandeen, a trans woman, joined the protest despite the fact that repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will not change the law to allow trans people in the military.

The protest was organised by GetEqual, which advocates “bold action” to repeal the law. Yesterday, its activists heckled President Obama at a fundraiser.

A statement from the group said: “President Obama knows that the DAB [Defence Authorisation Bill] provides a way to repeal DADT [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] immediately.

“And he knows that repealing the policy quickly and decisively is the right thing to do for LGBT servicemembers and for all of the armed forces. But recent reports suggest that the administration is trying to delay any law change until December or even later.”

Lt Choi said: “We are handcuffing ourselves to the White House gates once again to demand that President Obama show leadership on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. If the president were serious about keeping his promise to repeal this year, he would put the repeal language in his Defence Authorisation budget.”

The six were arrested by Park Police after bolt cutters were used to cut through their chains. Capt. PJ Beck of the Park Police said they were arrested for “failure to obey a lawful order”.

They are expected to be arraigned in court this afternoon, while Lt Choi and Capt Pietrangelo also face a hearing on May 26th for their earlier arrest on the same charge.

GetEqual argues that President 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.
Following his arrest last month, Lt Choi accused gay rights groups of ‘betraying’ gay people by not taking strong enough action to contest inequality.

More: Americas

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