As one of the thirteen people who handcuffed themselves to the White House Fence on 15 November 2010, I have been following the trial of Dan Choi with much interest; he has been in my thoughts and prayers through this whole ordeal. The reason I handcuffed myself to the Fence was to draw attention to an unjust law that has destroyed the careers of countless members of the U.S. Armed Forces, simply because they are members of a minority group.
At the time of this act of Civil Disobedience, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had been de-prioritized by the Obama Administration. The House of Representatives was about to fall under Republican Control in January 2011. Unless the lame-duck session of Congress, specifically the U.S. Senate, passed repeal legislation sent to them by the House, DADT would remain the law of the land. Our action put DADT repeal on the front page of media. That spotlight helped to move repeal forward in Congress.
Typically protestors are penalized with a $100.00 fine and misdemeanor count, which is about as serious as a traffic ticket. As the current Court proceedings clearly indicate, we were singled out for “special treatment” by Obama’s Justice Department. Twelve of us agreed to plead “guilty” with a plea agreement that dismisses charges against us. Our motives for accepting this agreement were: 1) some members of our group are teachers who would lose employment and be barred from their profession and become unemployed as a result. 2) All of us would have a federal crime on our records that would undermine future employment. 3) Twelve of us did not have the considerable financial resources to retain competent legal counsel and pursue costly litigation in Federal Court.
I am happy that Dan Choi was in a position to pursue this matter further. In doing so he is unmasking not only the true face of this Administration, but a corrupting arrogance on the part of the Federal government since the enactment of the Patriot Act, the de facto suspension of habeas corpus at Gitmo and the violation of the Geneva convention by the Bush Administration. Not to mention our nation’s engagement in a war against Iraq in violation of the Just War Theory. A war prompted by corporate greed for Iraq’s oil, as Alan Greenspan pointed out, and paid for with the blood of civilian non-combatants (collateral damage) as well as members of our Armed Forces.
Regardless of how you feel about LGBT Equality, there are other broader issues at stake here. As Chris Geidner reports in MetroWeekly,
The judge went on to say that he believed the prosecution was not selective in the traditional sense but rather was more subtle.
“It is impermissible,” he told the courtroom, “for the U.S. Government to prosecute differently on the basis of the content of First Amendment speech.”
We handcuffed ourselves to the White House Fence to obtain Civil Rights for our community in the Armed Forces. Dan has gone on to fight for all of our First Amendment rights. Specifically the rule of law and the notion that the government is accountable to its citizens, BRAVO Dan!