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Watch: Lt. Dan Choi Speaks Following Court Hearing


Lt. Dan Choi spoke following his and Cpt. Jim Pietrangelo's court appearance in D.C. today. As I mentioned earlier, both Choi and Pietrangelo pleaded 'not guilty' and opted for a trial rather than to pay a fine. The trial will take place on April 26.

Said Choi, in part: 

"There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me, and I thought of all of the other people that were still trapped - that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts. And we might have been caged up physically, but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation, or with a cocktail party, or with tokens, that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get that dignity back - being chained up and being arrested - that's how you get your dignity conferred back upon you. And so I think that by actions, my call is to every leader - not just talking gay leaders - I'm talking any leader who believes in America, and the promises of America can be manifest. We're gonna do it again. And we're going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest. And we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people. We will not go away."

Watch MetroWeekly's video of Choi's remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

Unequal  AmericaBlog reports that the Human Rights Campaign was "on lockdown" today for fear of sit-ins from protesters:

"Apparently HRC is on lockdown, out of fear that gays civil rights advocate, angry at the organization for providing cover for the President's and the Congress's in action on DADT and ENDA, might try to stage a sit-in. I hear that even staff had to use key cards to get into the building, as everything was locked up tight (normally the front door is open). Locking the building down like the gay CTU is certainly one option. Another is simply doing your job. NB "Inaction" is incorrect. The White House is quite literally not interested in doing DADT this year. And HRC is publicly misleading the community about it. That's why Barney Frank had to come out last Monday and ask the White House, publicly, to say that it wants DADT repealed this year."

Wayne at World of Wonder has a nice selection of shots from this afternoon's small protest in support of Choi and Pietrangelo in New York's Times Square, including the shot inset here of Rainblow Flag creator Gilbert Baker with his latest banner.

Watch MetroWeekly's video of Choi's remarks, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. Lt. Choi, thank you for reminding us what actual activism looks like. I've been an HRC "member" at the lowest level for many years. I have friends who do a lot for them. I even put on a tux and went to the DC dinner with Obama last year (disappointing), but this year, I'm not renewing, and I'm going to tell Joe why. Their actions are pathetic, and it takes someone like Lt. Choi to highlight just how unfortunate and ineffective our "leaders" are. They are not leading anyone to anything except cocktail parties. It's truly sad because one might hope they could rise to the occasion and earn their keep, but they have shown they will not. Buh-bye, HRC.

    Posted by: So Left I'm Right | Mar 19, 2010 7:47:48 PM

  2. Are we through coddling HRC yet? Are we finished giving them money so they can have their swank parties yet do NOTHING for us? Have we had enough of them yet? Or, do we still get to play the roll battered housewives? When is enough going to be enough? HRC does NOTHING. HRC is NOTHING. HRC should BE NOTHING.

    Posted by: taodon | Mar 19, 2010 7:48:49 PM

  3. Choi has been losing it for a while now. He has been totally corrupted by the spotlight and it's gone to his head.

    Not only are his actions unbecoming of the military and in violation of the UCMJ, they will (and should) get him discharged from the service he had been purportedly fighting to stay in. He was JUST asked to go back to training, and he told everyone how happy he was about it. It looked like his discharge was going to be overlooked, in a sign that the DADT policy is changing. And now he pulls a stunt like this to try and show up Joe Solmonese.

    But even worse, this is damaging to the DADT repeal movement. The last thing DADT needs is an hysteric. This is NOT the same as the marriage equality movement. Choi's actions played directly into the stereotype that gay soldiers have been fighting against.

    For that matter, I didn't think bringing Kathy Griffin along so she can film the whole thing for her TV show was the best move either.

    Posted by: Mike | Mar 19, 2010 10:47:43 PM

  4. Mike I think your comments assume a lot of knowledge about Lt. Choi without much to back it up. I also think if you look, he is not wearing a uniform only camos. I also seriously doubt he cares much way or the other about showing up Joe.

    There will never be a right time for those in power to give us our rights. That has never worked in America. Americans are not a people who give in to weakness. They respect those who put it all on the line for what they believe in.

    Lt. Choi is a warrior and I think you must respect that he fights his battles that way. I for one respect his commitment and his courage.

    Posted by: pete | Mar 19, 2010 11:27:06 PM

  5. I didn't realize the Human Rights Campaign was a subsidiary of the Judge Advocate General. Why don't you let the military worry about the discharge. I am sure they are perfectly capable of hunting down gays and lesbians. After all, they have had a lot of practice.

    It really irks me whenever the HRC freaks out because somebody who does not fit into the Washington lobbyist stereotype so much as sneezes on the President's fence. As fickle as your political masters are, I am fairly sure Queen Pelosi isn't going to send you to Alcatraz for failing to stop someone else's protest. You know -- she has the Sergeant-at-Arms, bodyguards, and a military plane. And if all else fails, she can always whack an intruder on the head with the ceremonial mace.

    Choi is egotistical, dishonorable, corrupted by the spotlight, and vain?

    Why don't you just go ahead and say "uppity Asian" already. Might as well throw in the kitchen sink at this point.

    Posted by: John | Mar 19, 2010 11:58:39 PM

  6. We need more Dan Chois and few Joe Solmoneses.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Mar 20, 2010 12:10:22 AM

  7. Actually, he was wearing his uniform (ACUs) when he chained himself to the White House fence and while he was being arrested. This is against USC (10 U.S.C. § 772 : US Code - Section 772). You cannot wear your uniform at a public protest if not an official duty. As a DADT victim, I can tell you that I, along with the rest of the Family on base, are not happy with his actions. Definitely not the way to go about this.

    Posted by: Aaron | Mar 20, 2010 12:13:14 AM

  8. Choi is a joke. The only reason he got as far as he did is because he's telegenic, and because his constituency (friendly TV interviewers and gay activists) don't know anything about the military, and don't care.

    He trades on his West Point credentials and five years active duty and one year reserve. Well let's have a closer look. When Choi left as a consequence of DADT, he had been in for six years. The captain track usually takes four years, but the war has caused a shortage of captains and majors so now capt. takes 3-1/2 years.

    A block of wood can make captain. It's virtually automatic. But Choi never did, and he didn't declare he was gay until he'd been in for six years. Not only that, be he came out of the Point. Translation: Long before he ever made his splash with Rachel Maddow, the "hero" LT was a problem child that the Army didn't want. And don't tell me that don't want any gays. There are plenty of gay field officers (MAJ through COL), and some gay flag (general) officers.

    Unless Choi comes clean with an interviewer who's ever been within 50 miles of a military installation, we'll never hear about what kept him this Pointer from clearing a hurdle that EVERYONE clears unless they're a real fuckup on the job.

    But it does help explain why Choi decided that he'd attend a political protest in uniform; purposely get himself arrested there; chain himself to his commander-in-chief's fence; and generally make a ridiculous spectacle of himself on national television. He's a loose screw, and if some other commentary I read elsewhere is correct, also a fame whore and all-around egomaniac, not to mention a member in good standing of the Overgrown High School Drama Club 'n Amateur Theatre.

    Other people can be as impressed as they want to by this half-wit, but I ain't. Anybody who thinks Choi is helping gay people in military service had better think again. Someone needs to swap him for a new poster boy. How about someone who was wounded in Iraq and who won't take it upon himself to piss all over everything the military is about?

    All these people bending over to kiss that guy's ass, I have a question: Do you actually give a shit about gay people in the military, or are you just in this for this week's shits 'n giggles? Wait, better not answer that.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 12:22:21 AM

  9. Reading this comments assures me that Dan has done the right thing and a new movement with GetEqual leading the pack is on the horizon.

    Look at the unnecessary vitriol aimed at Mr. Choi in some of these comments not just here, but on all gay and progressive blogs that's covered this; he has our fair-whether allies scared shitless. He's rocked the boat and these clowns are clinging on for dear life.

    Iceberg, dead ahead.

    Posted by: Cory | Mar 20, 2010 12:31:36 AM

  10. Should be fair-weather but whatever, I'm flu stricken and typing sucks.

    Also, Career, go hit things and stop being fat.

    Posted by: Cory | Mar 20, 2010 12:37:18 AM

  11. "Go hit things and stop being fat"

    What a stupid comment.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 3:45:48 AM

  12. Lt. Choi is an exemplary career soldier with impeccable morals. I have met him on many occasions and can speak to his sincere committment to military ideals and to his love of country.
    Lt. Choi has brought attention to the failure and shame of DADT. DADT has been an unnecessary burden on LGBT service members who serve their country with honor and dignity.
    Lt. Choi has shown great courage to take on the military and the anti-gay conservative machine. He has spent considerable time & effort and risked his career to correct a moral wrong that violates military ideals.
    Career is the joke in these comments. Making defamatory accusations with no proof or knowledge is childish and immature. Attacking a career soldier who has served with dignity & honor is pathetic and cowardly.
    Lt. Choi speaks Arabic, something in great demand in the Middle East. DADT has resulted in scores of Arabic speakers being discharged thus reducing military effectiveness and intelligence.
    I suggest you meet Lt. Choi and engage him face-to-face. The LGBT movement needs more leaders like Lt. Choi and fewer carpetbaggers and whiners.
    End DADT today! Stop the witchunts. The Israli, British, Dutch, and Spanish military have out LGBT soldiers serving with dignity & honor, the US military can no longer justify DADT.

    Posted by: SF Hero | Mar 20, 2010 8:27:22 AM

  13. Definitely disagreeing with some of these comments, for a reason that *may* be far more specific than others': I am intimately familiar with an idea which makes military types absolutely hysterical -- the idea that their "call to knowledge" that "civilians don't have" is actually a MAELSTROM of complete bull, and a card that they pull as regularly as others pull their own types of cards to "one-up" others.

    It's amusing that one comment here claims Choi was dishonorable when the *military's DADT policy* is dishonorable. Shall we really all argue that until we're hoarse? Don't (deleted) tell me what to think of my military, thanks.

    Won't get into further examples, but I could easily excoriate several other people here. Your ignorance and your pretense that Choi had "no reason" to do this are a shock to the conscience, enough to make me question the military deeply enough to snicker at its "credo."


    Posted by: adx | Mar 20, 2010 8:32:27 AM

  14. It's amazing...even members of our own LGBT community are beginning to drink the Kool-Aid...convinced that the Obama administration really cares about this issue and that they are working hard at getting DADT repealed. And others who criticize Lt. Choi for doing what they - and I - don't have the guts to do (at least not yet): get arrested for what we believe. The HRC's cocktail receptions and platitudes for a President who is relying on hope and little else to get DADT repealed are as much the enemy as those members of Congress and our state legislatures who have shown nothing but cowardice when it comes to defending the rights of every human to equal treatment under the law.

    Posted by: MarkusZ | Mar 20, 2010 10:14:51 AM

  15. When these officers appear at their release from prison they no longer wearing rank ensignia or beret. What's that about?

    Posted by: alan | Mar 20, 2010 1:38:11 PM

  16. I'm ex-Army. I think Dan's a true hero. And I think alot of our so-called allies are scared as hell of the attention Dan brings to the issue. (and they are few posers and jealous bitches out there for good measure as well)

    Posted by: Wayne | Mar 20, 2010 3:07:24 PM

  17. Annoyance will lead to victory? How's that worked for Pro-lifers? They're very annoying and disruptive and even engage in civil disobedience. How's that worked for them? Did pro-choice people accomplish anything after 37 years of coordinated annoyance?

    I fully understand this idea of "making demands." That is the basis for Choi and the GetEqual stunts. But, here's the problem:

    A DEMAND needs an accompanying THREAT.

    What THREAT does GetEqual have? Volume? What are the consequences when LGBT demands are not met? If we are ignored, as has been the case for decades, what's next? Violence? When Blacks had "non-violent" marches in the 60s they carried baseball bats. That "picture" was threatening. Our country at the time was terrified about riots and violence. That was a THREAT. What's our threat?

    That is the big problem with GetEqual and its predecessors, EqualityAcrossAmerica, JoinTheImpact, EqualityNetwork and on and on and on. Demands are not enough and i'm afraid annoyance isn't going to create any fear or compassion for our plight.

    Demands without threats are like opinions without solutions – they may garner some attention, but they don't provide any results.

    Posted by: AndrewW | Mar 20, 2010 4:27:36 PM

  18. @ADX, I haven't called Choi "dishonorable," because that word has a specific meaning in the military. I've said other negative things about him, but not that.

    That technicality aside, it is possible for DADT to be stupid and wrong AND for Choi to be stupid and wrong. Oh, and I've never written that Choi "had no reason" to pull his stunt. He obviously had his reasons, or he wouldn't have done it. I pretty strongly dispute his reasoning, that's all.

    To oppose Choi is not to support DADT. Choi is just one loose cannon, one showboating fool of an attention whore who has forgotten (or maybe never really grasped, judging from his piss-poor promotion record) what the military is really about.

    @Markusz, when Choi was on television, I was skeptical of the guy but in favor of what he was doing. I think his arrest was a classic case of an egotist jumping the shark. The guy is out of control, and is no longer valuable as a poster boy for DADT repeal. That's his doing, not anyone else's.

    @SF HERO, my "accusations" are based entirely on fact and knowledge, and people with actual military experience agree with me.

    @Andreww, I agree. The DADT battle, which by the way is on the brink of being won, is very different from the civilian civil rights battles of the 1960s. In this one, people want INTO the military, and are arguing that gay people will not be a disruptive force. I don't think it's a real great idea to have as a poster boy someone who blatantly violates military regulations and customs. It kinda-sorta steps on that message.

    The other thing to say is that DADT is federal law. It can only be repealed by an act of Congress, and the politics of that are that Congress will listen closely to what the military says. The reason I am optimistic is that the JCS chairman and the theater commander in Afghanistan have testified in favor of repeal.

    Demonstrations outside the White House are exercises in egomania and famewhoring.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 6:12:05 PM

  19. I am disgusted by the lynching people in our own community are doing to Lt. Choi. Since when have we EVER had a grassroots effort for our basic rights in the last ten years? How many time have you sent you money into Equality California, or HRC or the Democratic Party?

    In a vain hope that these organizations and their leaders would be the champions for Equality and carry your banner. Well newsflash everyone they aren't!

    Harvey Bernard Milk got it right back in the 70's when he ran against the spineless silent gay "advocates" when he ran against the machines and the political powers to obtain something for gays.

    He didn't do it by sitting at a goddamn cocktail party sniffing the ass of every major politician or acting polite. It is high time we abandon these charlatans and praise men like Dan Choi who have the guts to do what many here would not dare....

    It is time we remember the Movement. The US's, or did you forget about the stabbings in the Castro? The burning of Seaman August Provost's body, or the beating of Matthew Sheppard?

    I am part of a Movement. Obama is not the movement, the HRC is not the movement, and the fucking Democratic Party is NOT the movement!

    I believe in Hope and a better tomorrow. I know what its like being discharged for being gay, being physically beaten while in the Service for being Gay, and my Partner who now serves on active duty is feeling the pressure of the closet and the burden that I did...

    If anyone is to be shamed it is those who think of our rights as nothing more than a cocktail party, or who could care LESS about the cause than about their own 15 minutes of fame and bullshitting.....

    Remember. Harvey Milk was Dishonorably discharged from the military!

    And so will hundreds and thousands more if we do not take action now....

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 20, 2010 7:24:36 PM

  20. @JASON, that was quite a rant. Do you feel better now?

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 8:13:26 PM

  21. No because my Partner is still serving in the closet.

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 20, 2010 8:14:31 PM

  22. @JASON, I should have read through your whole comment. I apologize to you. I don't agree with what you're saying, but you have standing to say it with me.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 8:15:24 PM

  23. And what particular points do you not agree with? if your going to be critical of my views at least be specific.

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 20, 2010 8:23:44 PM

  24. Well, okay I will.

    Your posting is mostly emotion, which is responsible for my originally snarky comment. I apologized because you're a military veteran and have been a victim of DADT and have a partner who is.

    I think there have been a bunch of grassroots efforts for gay rights in the last 10 years. They've mostly failed (the gay side of the marriage battles), but they were still grass roots efforts as much as Choi's protest was.

    I disagree with your implied view that militancy in the street is the only legitimate way to push for gay rights. I think that tactic has often worked, but not always. There are times when conciliation and assimilation works better. Examples would be gay marriage in Massachusetts and Vermont, and civil unions in Washington state.

    As it concerns DADT, I think the reality is that this is a political struggle within Congress, and that the realities there make progress depend on support for ending DADT within the military. To judge from testimony by the JCS chairman and by Gen. Petraeus, I am optimistic.

    I think trying to bully or shame the military through street demonstrations is very much the wrong way to go on DADT repeal. It might give demonstrators a rush to be at the barricades, but with the military policy it'll be the quiet voices in Congress and the Pentagon that make the difference.

    Look, I'm basically in favor of whatever works. If lobbying and talk is what works, that's what we ought to do. I don't care about the thrills. I want the policy changed, and I think that's going to happen. I think Petraeus's appearance last week put the final nail in the opposition's coffin.

    Posted by: Career | Mar 20, 2010 8:35:59 PM

  25. I never implied that militancy in the street is the only way to get our views heard. I am implying simply that we as a community have become so fragmented and splintered that the grassroots efforts we lead in the 70's and 80's have diminished greatly.

    Simply put, many gays could care less about marriage, or about rights for openly gay members to serve with honor. It doesn't concern nor effect them personally so why should they care?

    That's the mentality I have gotten from many sadly. many have nothing to lose so they simply do not care.

    That however was not so back in the days of Milk and Prop 6 where everyone had something to lose. Their family, their job, even their life.

    It didn't matter what you did for a profession or how much money you made, or what brand of clothing you wore....

    Everyone was at risk for losing something which gave the gay rights movement the momentum it needed.

    And I strongly disagree with your views that this ban will be lifted by the quiet voices on Congress. Not when you have Senator's like Mccain who drafts a document filled with retired officers screaming for the policy to remain.

    A below the belt tactic in my book seeing as the average age of the signer is 74, and the oldest 98, making them serving hardly during DADT was enacted and not even serving on active duty in the 21st century military...

    This is the type of rhetoric we face. We don't have strong Gay politicians fighting for us. We have Barney Frank who ridicules marching and activism with scorn and the thumbing of his nose....

    And yet it was the marching and the grassroots efforts that started the gay rights movement. Not the spineless pleading of a few behind the door meeting with the liberal powers that could give two shits about your rights or mine..

    And no one is bullying or shaming the military here! These are decorated veterans fighting for their right to die for this country with honor and dignity. To serve without guilt or shame for who they are....

    I leave you with this. No one will hand you your rights, you MUST fight for them! You MUST take to the street and to the people and show them our cause....

    Remember Stonewall started with a riot. And I pray the Gay Movement does not die with a whimper....

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 20, 2010 9:38:23 PM

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