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What Was Accomplished A Week Ago

Photo courtesy of Talk About Equality.

There are those who say acts of civil disobedience accomplish nothing. That they are merely childish temper tantrums and an embarrassment.

Well, I disagree.

Flashback to an earlier time–just two weeks ago–because it’s easy to forget how very quickly the tone of the conversation changed this week.

Following mid-term elections, the gay community noted with dismay, that rumors were circulating the effort to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would be abandoned. Wall Street Journal declared “Drive to Repeal ‘Don’t Ask’ Policy All but Lost for Now.” There were also reports in Washington Post Senate Armed Services Committee Chair, Carl Levin was considering throwing in the towel.

On November 4, President Obama held a press conference and did not list “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as on the lame duck legislative priorities. The CNBC headline read: Lame Duck Priorities: Taxes and Nukes. When asked by a reporter, President Obama would only say there was the “potential” to repeal DADT in the lame duck. Which isn’t news to anyone. There is also the “potential” that Lt. Dan Choi could be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Let us not confuse a “potentiality” with a likelihood or a plan.

Senate Majority Harry Reid, seemed unsure of the path forward. He was quoted on November 4, that he would “try” and went on to explain all the reasons it might not work out.

“During a conference call yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he would try to move the bill once the Senate comes back to session later this month. “The problem we have with a defense authorization bill is that it takes a while to get it done,” he said. “If we could get some agreement from the Republicans that we could move the bill without a lot of extraneous amendments, I think it is something we can work out. Time agreements on a few amendments, that would be my goal.”

On November 10th, White House Communications director was asked about DADT repeal by National Journal, he said it was “at least, worth a shot”:

DON’T ASK. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer told National Journal that repealing the ban on gays serving openly in the military is “at least worth a shot” in the lame-duck session of Congress that starts next week. But lawmakers would have to hang around longer than some might like: The military’s study on the proposed repeal isn’t due till December 1.

At the time the action was planned, things looked bad. Really bad. Senate Armed Service Chairman was quoted in the Washington Post:

“See that bill?” Levin said as he removed a copy of the bill from a folder. “The bill has 849 pages and only two of them are ‘don’ t ask, don’t tell.’ The rest have to do with our troops, they have to do with a whole lot of critically important things.”

Uh, oh. More important things to do. That never works out well for the gays.

On Monday, when I was picked up at the jail by a friend, I’d obviously been in media blackout for 8 hours, he handed me his iPhone. On it I saw a huge list of media outlets that were reporting on our action. It was long, and impressive. And I knew we’d done the right thing. We’d help change the conversation.


Associated Press “Don’t Ask” Protestors Arrested at White House

The Atlantic Non-Violent Resistance ‘Don’t ask’ protesters arrested at White House

Washington Post “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Splitting Gay Rights Groups

CNN Gay Rights Protestors Demand Obama help end “don’t ask, don’t tell”

Politico Lieberman, Collins seek earlier release of Pentagon DADT report

Huffington Post Gay Rights Activists Accuse Obama of Silent Homophobia

Fox News ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Arrest Outside White House

Politico Don’t Ask’ protesters target WH outreach

CBS News Dan Choi, Other Gay Rights Protesters Arrested After Chaining Selves to White House Fence

CBS News ‘Don’t Ask’ Protesters Arrested At White House


Army Times 13 Arrested During DADT Protest (AP Story)

Air Force Times 13 Arrested During DADT Protest (AP story)

Boston Herald ‘Don’t Ask’ protestors arrested at White House (AP story)

NPR (KPBS) Thirteen People Arrested Today at White House in “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Protest

NPR (KPBS) Veterans, Advocates Hold Vigil Today for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal

NPR(KPBS) The First Living Medal of Honor Winner Since Vietnam War

WTOP-DC 13 arrested outside White House during protest

Keen News Service Two groups send mixed message on DADT repeal timing

The Advocate DADT Protesters Arrested at White House


Getty Images

Associated Press

Yahoo News Photos Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

Yahoo News Photos ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy

Washington Blade GetEQUAL Day of Action

SF Chronicle SFGate: Day in Pictures


Perez Hilton Lt. Dan Choi Accuses President of “Silent Homophobia”

Alternet Gay activists chain themselves to White House gate

Huffington Post George Heymont: I had a don’t ask, don’t tell dream (and John McCain’s not going to like it)

– Lt. Dan Choi reference

Gay Rights Activists Accuse Obama Of ‘Silent Homophobia’


My Fox DC ‘Don’t Ask’ Protesters Arrested at White House

Washington Examiner 13 arrested outside White House during protest

NBC Washington 13 Arrested at Protest Outside White House

KWCH 13 arrested after chaining themselves to White House fence in ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ protest

Minneapolis Star Tribune 13 arrested after chaining themselves to White House fence in ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ protest

KRDO White House Protest Included Former Fort Carson Soldier Former Fort Carson Solider Arrested In Front Of White House After Protest of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Seattle Post ‘Don’t ask’ protesters arrested at White House

Ozarks First Protesters Cuff Themselves to White House Gates

Miami Herald Protesters Cuff Themselves to White House Gates ‘Don’t ask’ protesters arrested at White House

WTAJ Activists Chain Selves to White House Gates

We Are Central PA Activists Chain Themselves to White House Gate

Tucson Citizen BREAKING: Activists chain themselves to White House Fence for DADT

WHSV Protesters Arrested After Handcuff Selves to White House Fence

WSRY Don’t Ask Protesters Arrested At White House

WUSA Gay Rights Group Members Arrested At White House For Chaining Themselves To Fence


Agency France Presse (AFP) Gay activists chain themselves to White House gate

Straits Times (Singapore) Gay activists chain selves to White House gate

The Times of India Gay rights activists chain themselves to White House gate (AFP story)

Canada TV U.S. gay military ban unlikely to be repealed soon

The Gaurdian ‘Don’t ask’ protesters arrested at White House

La Raza- La Casa Blanca con el ‘Dream Act’

Momarandu Homofobia silenciosa

Portugal Gay-EUA Manifestantes contra DADT sao presos junto à Casa Branca

CNN International Gay rights protesters demand Obama help end ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’


AmericaBlog Gay Coverage of GetEQUAL DADT Protests:



Edge Boston “Don’t ask, don’t tell” protesters arrested outside White House

San Diego Gay/Lesbian News BREAKING NEWS: 13 people chain themselves to White House fence to protest DADT inaction

365 13 protesting DADT arrested at White House

Just Out Advocates and Vets Opposing DADT Arrested at White House Fence DADT Vigil Held at Matlovich Grave Site

Washington Blade 13 arrested at White House in “Don’t Ask” protest

Reid’s office gives activists non-answers on “Don’t Ask” 13 vets and DADT repeal advocates chain themselves to White House gate

Pam’s House Blend Again, I’m near here the place I was last April

On Top Magazine Dan Choi, Robin McGehee Arrested Protesting DADT At White House

Pink News Thirteen gay activists arrested after White House DADT Protest

South Capitol Street GetEQUAL Hits Up White House Meeting For LGBT Orgs Tonight

Wockner DADT protesters arrested at White House

Black Christian News WATCH: Homosexual Rights Activists Accuse President Obama of ‘Silent Homophobia’

Pride In Utah GetEQUAL Kicks Off “Week of Action” With Sunrise Vigil + A Visit To Harry Reid

Firedog Lake DADT Repeal Turning Into Political Chaos

Fire Dog Lake GetEqual Protests the Veal Pen Re: DADT Repeal 13 protesting DADT arrested at White House

So what was accomplished? The headlines for day one of lame duck were all about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” This was clearly not the preferred message of the day. I think that would have been START and taxes, sorry to step on that, but we can’t wait for our leaders to bring it up. We can’t depend on the mainstream media to ask the questions. We have to generate our own press.

And the landscape surrounding repeal has change pretty dramatically in the last week. It may have anyway, it may not. That’s something we’ll never be able to know.

But last Monday, activists sent a message to the country and to our country’s leadership. We’re not going to make this easy for you. We’re not going to back down. And we’re going to give it just “more than a shot,” we’re giving it our all.

Our leaders want to talk in mealy language about the “potential” for repeal, “giving it a shot” and “trying.” They want to talk about how hard it is, and how they have so little time until they get to go home to their families for Christmas. We’re reminding them 2010 is yet another year when thousands of servicemembers may not even have the luxury of being able to call their loved ones over the holidays. Many will spend this holiday season alone, as they have many others. We speak for them. We stand for them. And we’re asking this country’s leadership to do so too.

Our message is: We’re not going to quietly go away, just because they have let the clock run out with poorly-timed plan. We are going to act boldly, fearlessly and in no uncertain terms, with a single explicit message: End “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” End it now. You promised you would. And we remember.

In the week since I took action, I’ve also had my creditability on the issue of DADT attacked repeatedly, and I’ve been accused of lying and being a “media hoe.” (A curious accusation since I received–nor have I sought–any attention from “the media,” and these are my first words on this action, outside of a few scattered comments on Facebook and Twitter.)

But I worry not about that. I have never presented myself as flawless or unerring advocate. I have only aspired to speak for LGB servicemembers who are compelled by Federal law to not speak for themselves. And I have earned the respect and confidence of that crowd.

And not just the famous ones. Sgt Ian Finkenbinder (last picture), is not only a hero but the group’s clown, rarely letting his jocular manner drop. But for just a moment, when we were chained next to each other at the fence, his guard dropped. He looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you for being here.” I could see he was grateful I, a civilian with no desire to serve, who had no direct stake in the battle, had involved himself so passionately in this fight. I think, for a moment, he felt less alone, less forgotten.

I’ve received thanks and praise from all over the country, from vast variety of people. Friends from high school, friends from my current life, fellow activists, even Capital Hill staffers.

And of course, many, many, many current and retired military people. I have been welcomed warmly into their fold. On Thursday night I stepped into Julius gay bar in New York City to join them for a drink. I was humbled to be greeted with a thunderous applause. These moments have meant the world to me and far, far, more than any slings and arrows I suffer from any quarters.

Organizers GetEqual just released this compilation video. It highlights their message, which got lost in the media maelstrom of facile reporting, please take a moment to watch it. I am especially proud of my friend, Specialist Rob Smith at the 0:56 mark challenging the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus to break their silence on this issue. DADT disproportionately affects servicemembers of color. Do they not represent those people of color as well?

Bulk orders of handcuffs and attorney fees and court fines do not come cheap. If you wish to support this action you may donate here.

CommunityMy FDL

What Was Accomplished A Week Ago

Photo courtesy of Talk About Equality.

There are those who say acts of civil disobedience accomplish nothing. That they are merely childish temper tantrums and an embarrassment.

Well, I disagree.


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