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Blend exclusive – Dan Choi: Why I support the March on Washington

NOTE FROM PAM: Lieutenant Dan Choi, the active duty Infantry officer, Iraq vet, and Arabic speaker who came out and was sent on the discharge path because of DADT — under Commander in Chief President Barack Obama — has penned a piece for the Blend about his view that a march on Washington is essential.

Why I support the March on Washington

By LT Dan Choi

On Thursday, at Netroots Nation, former President Bill Clinton made it plain.  The gay community did not deliver the political support in 1993 to prevent “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and DOMA.  I personally take that as a challenge. I am marching on Washington. 

I recognize that my perspective is different from others.  I am new to the gay rights movement.  It was less than two years ago that I fell in love and realized the true cost of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy – that my family was not really part of the Army family I had come to believe in.   And it was only a few months ago that I came out publicly and, much to my surprise, found myself considered a “gay activist.”

And my experience working against Prop 8 in my home state of California was eye-opening for me.  It turns out there are many others like me, young LGBT people who have been galvanized by the visible injustice of DADT, Prop 8, and DOMA.  We are horrified, we are electrified, we are ready and eager to enlist in this fight – but like any new recruits, we need to be trained, and we need to be mobilized.

The Equality March is absolutely essential to me for two reasons. 

First, because, for so many of us, this is our first time raising our voices.  We need to stand together, in our nation’s capital, and claim our place as part of this magnificent national movement, at exactly this moment.  More experienced activists and leaders need to mobilize, motivate, and train the less experienced – we all have to feel in their bones how critical this work is.  And we need to come together as a community, so that when we go back to our cities, suburbs, and small towns, we remain part of the larger effort that spans the country.

Training is critical, and Equality Across America is committed to using this valuable time to provide information, workshops, and networking so that those who attend will go home ready to make things happen in their communities and states.

Second, the Senate hearings on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” convene in October.  For LGBT veterans, NOW is the time to be visible for those who are invisible, to be heard while others must stay silent.  This is a “mandatory formation” for all vets who gave up their service because they could no longer live a lie, or who were hounded out because of who they loved, and for those who support them.     

I understand why veterans of the LGBT rights movement feel that we don’t need a national march.  The concern that this will divert effort from other important work – passing marriage equality at the statehouses, for one.

But I disagree with the notion that making the trek to DC will take away from our other efforts.  In fact, it will focus and re-energize the work we will do when we get home. 

2009 can be a milestone, a tipping point.  This is the year when we step up to our full citizenship as Americans: marrying and raising families, serving in our military.  Join us in Washington on October 11 to tell the whole nation.

* LT Dan Choi's Open Letter To Congress and President Obama
* Knights Out Calls For President To Issue Stop-Loss Order
* Dan  Choi's appearance on Rachel Maddow:

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding