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Gay Solider Dan Choi is Formally Discharged

A gay soldier from California says he's been honorably discharged from the Army National Guard under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Lt. Dan Choi, an Iraq war veteran from Orange County, was discharged from the New York Army National Guard on Thursday. He called the move "infuriating and painful."

Choi announced he was gay on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" in March of 2009 and was "dismissed" by the Army in May of that year. He had been waiting for military officials to decide whether he would be discharged.

"Don't ask, don't tell" prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but requires discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or are discovered to be engaging in homosexual activity.

Choi is not the first servicemember to be dismissed because of his sexuality under the Obama administration, but his dismissal stands out because of his noted skills. Choi is an infantry platoon leader in the New York National Guard who is fluent in Arabic. He graduated West Point and served in Iraq.

As founding member of Knights Out, an organization for openly gay, lesbisan, bisexual, and transgender West Point alumni and their supporters, Choi advocates allowing openly gay people to serve in the military.

"After 11 years since beginning my journey at West Point and after 17 months of serving openly as an infantry officer this is both an infuriating and painful announcement," Choi said in a written statement Friday. "But my service continues. To all those veterans who have endured similar trials and injustices or prematurely ended their military service because of the unjust policy: our fight has only begun."

Watch video of Choi's March 19, 2009 appearance on MSNBC:

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