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Protesting ‘Don’t Ask’, gay activists arrested after chaining themselves to White House fence

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, November 15, 2010 18:13 EDT
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Famed activist Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and military translator who was expelled from the service for being gay, was arrested Monday afternoon along with 12 others who chained themselves to the White House fence in protest of the military’s exclusionary policy.

Activists with the group GetEQUAL had paid a visit to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) earlier in the day, capping their demonstration with the arrest on Pennsylvania Ave. Also today, Choi disassociated himself from Knights Out, the group of openly LGBT West Point graduates he founded. The activist was upset with organization’s decision to support a separation of the Don’t Ask, Don’t repeal (so it will be considered separately by the Senate) from the Defense Authorization bill, a move some believe will diminish the chance of the repeal’s passage.

“Activists joining Choi at the fence were Michael Bedwell, Cadet Mara Boyd, U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Justin Elzie, Catholic priest Fr. Geoff Farrow, U.S. Army Arab Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, Dan Fotou of GetEQUAL, Get Equal director Robin McGehee, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Miriam Ben-Shalom, U.S. Army veteran Rob Smith, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas and Scott Wooledge,” added Yusef Najafi, writing for Metro Weekly. “Bedwell held a Time magazine cover of Sgt. Leonard Matlovich, whose grave Get Equal had visited early in the morning on Monday.”

”We have served our country valiantly to defend our freedom and justice, and now it is time for our leaders to do the same,” Choi told reporters as the activists stood against the White House fence.

He called President Obama’s perceived inaction on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” a form of “silent homophobia.”

Responding to a recent appeal by a group of gay Republicans, the US Supreme Court refused to block the continued enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. The rule had been declared unconstitutional and overturned by a lower court, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked full repeal a short time later.

During that brief window of opportunity when “Don’t Ask” was not being enforced, Raw Story covered Choi’s attempt to to reenlist in the Army. He was unsuccessful. Choi was previously arrested in March for chaining himself to the White House fence.

President Obama maintains that he favors a repeal of the military’s gay ban, but that he’d like to see it done by an act of Congress. His Justice Department has aggressively moved for continued enforcement in all cases.

A repeal of “Don’t Ask” is included with the defense appropriations bill currently before Congress and there’s still a chance it could see repeal during the lame-duck session, but Republicans have vowed to filibuster any bill that would end the discriminatory policy.

This video was originally published to The Huffington Post on Nov. 15, 2010.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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