Dan Choi on upcoming trial for protest at WH fence: 'it's a badge of honor'
“To be able to stand up and get punished and to continue to sacrifice in a visible way is a badge of honor on behalf of those people who have not yet been able to do the bare minimum of their steps toward gaining dignity – and that is coming out.”
— Dan Choi, unconcerned about the criminal penalties he faces if found guilty, to Chris Johnson of The Washington Blade.
In a few days (July 14), Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo II, charged with two counts of failure to obey a lawful order will face a judge who will determine their fate. The possibilities, if convicted, are jail time or a $1000 fine, but the former is unlikely, according to their attorneys.
In drawing attention to the trial, Dan wants people to focus on what has yet to be done regarding DADT.
Congress took action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on May 27 when the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee independently attached language to each chamber’s version of major defense budget legislation that would repeal the law.
But Choi said many “who are not in the know” erroneously believe the ban on open service ended as a result of the May votes, and that his trial can help educate people about the situation and “continue to build pressure.”
Besides highlighting the military’s gay ban, Choi said he hopes his trial will call attention to what he called a kind of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” within the LGBT community that prevents people from taking action.
“To me, they’re one and the same,” he said. “The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the military enforces shame and hiding and an inability to even discuss certain topics or bring up certain methods of how we’re going to be full and equal dignified people – and the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in our movement is enforced by people upon themselves, upon ourselves.”
…”To be able to stand up and get punished and to continue to sacrifice in a visible way is a badge of honor on behalf of those people who have not yet been able to do the bare minimum of their steps toward gaining dignity – and that is coming out,” he said.
As we discussed a while back on the Blend, one of the other matters concerning this trial that will make it hard to ignore is that the President has received a subpoena to testify.
Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. James Pietrangelo II are each charged with two counts of Failure to Obey a Lawful Order, pursuant to DC Municipal Regulations (18 DCMR 2000.2 (1995); these charges stem from arrests at the White House sidewalk, on two separate occasions, March 18, 2010 and April 20, 2010. They face a nonjury trial on both charges, on Wed., July 14, 2010, in Courtroom 120 of DC Superior Court. This Court is located at 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. These are relatively minor charges (the Defendants may only be fined, from $100 to $1000, and may not receive jail time for these infractions). However, the Defendants seek to use their trials to highlight the ongoing effects of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and policy of the U.S. Armed Forces toward gay and lesbian servicemembers. They seek to compel the testimony of President Barack Obama who has, on several occasions as President and Commander in Chief (and previously as a Senator and Presidential Candidate) called on the LGBT community to “pressure” him to change the DADT law and policy, thus allowing gay servicemembers to serve their country openly and honorably.
The subpoena of the President is necessary for the defense to prove that Defendants were following and obeying lawful orders or directives by their President and Commander in Chief, and were therefore under an obligation and authority to act as they did in order to pressure him – in a non-violent, visible way – on this important public issue. In addition, these statements support the contention that Defendants were acting out of necessity, in order to prevent discrimination and greater harm to gay servicemembers now serving.