Lt. Dan Choi Arrested at White House During Gay Rights Rally
Lt. Dan Choi, the openly gay Iraq war veteran who has been an outspoken opponent of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, was arrested Thursday after chaining himself to a fence at the White House.
The Advocate reports that Choi, along with former Army infantryman Jim Pietrangelo, was arrested after chaining themselves to the fence following a rally in Washington for repeal of the policy, which bans gay men and women from serving openly in the military.
Choi, who announced his sexuality on national television, has not formally been discharged under the policy, though his discharge is reportedly pending. Pietrangelo has been formally discharged.
"You have been told that the President has a plan," Choi said at the rally, according to his prepared remarks. "But Congressman Barney Frank confirmed to us this week that the President still is not fully committed to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. And if we don't seize this moment it may not happen for a very long time."
Gay rights groups have criticized the Obama administration for not moving quickly enough on gay rights issues, including repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The military is now in the middle of a review on the impact of repeal, which is set to end by December 1st. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that repealing the policy is the "right thing to do." Gen. David Petraeus said earlier this week that the time had come to consider ending the policy.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing Thursday on repeal. Witnesses included Marine General John Sheehan and two officers who were discharged because of their sexual orientation.
According to reports, Choi crashed the rally, hosted by the gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign and comedian Kathy Griffin, and asked attendees to join him in a march to the White House, turning the event into more of a protest.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese did not march to the White House, in an illustration of the split in the gay rights movement between establishment organizations like the HRC, which generally support the Obama administration, and activists like Choi, who are pushing more aggressively for action.
A video posted to YouTube shows protesters chanting "Equality, Now" as Choi and Pietrangelo stand chained to the White House fence.
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