Gay US soldier Dan Choi on hunger strike
Gay US soldiers Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo entered their sixth day of a hunger strike today over the military gay ban.
The pair, who chained themselves to the White House fence recently, announced last Thursday they were going on hunger strike and say they will not eat until President Barack Obama meets their demands.
The three demands are to end the Pentagon’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell review; end gay firings and insert a non-discrimination policy into military code.
Their supporters are being urged to send paper plates to the White House to highlight the hunger strike.
In a statement, Lt Choi and Capt Pietrangelo said: “We are fasting in pursuit of equality and dignity for LGBTQ soldiers and the complete repeal of DADT (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tel).
“The community knows that the president does have within his power to end the discharges immediately.
“The president has not responded authentically in ending the firings and inherent discrimination. This has set into place a call to action that can no longer be ignored. It is going to met with the same degree of seriousness that it brought on the lives of those living under DADT.
“It is a matter of life or death which will be honoured through civil disobedience and fasting. This is a formidable call to conscience which invites all to stand in equality and dignity.”
Lt Choi has released a video filmed on Sunday detailing the phsyical effects of his fast so far.
In it, he said: “I wake up and I’m noticeably more tired and light-headed. The caretakers are making sure that I drink water but I don’t feel hungry very much at all. I do feel sometimes it’s difficult to keep walking and holding myself up, so I’m noticeably more depleted of energy. The back of my eyes sometimes hurt when I close them.”
Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House voted to let the military end the policy once a Pentagon study on the issue is completed on December 1st.
Military leaders must first certify that repeal won’t be disruptive but Republicans who are in opposition to repealing the ban are expected to contest the change.