Two gay service members arrested
Thursday outside the White House pleaded not guilty in DC Superior
Army Lt. Dan Choi, one of the most
visible opponents of “don't ask, don't tell,” along with Capt.
James E. Pietrangelo were arrested by Park Police after the men
handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in protest of the
policy which bans gay and lesbian service members from revealing
their sexual orientation at the risk of being fired.
Choi, 29, was discharged from the Army
under the policy last year after he announced he was gay on MSNBC's
The Rachel Maddow Show. He
is currently appealing the Army's decision.
Pietrangelo, 44, of Sandusky, Ohio, was
discharged in 2004.
Speaking at a DC event hosted by the
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest gay rights
advocate, Choi called on the crowd to join him in delivering a
message to the president. “Our fight is not here at Freedom Plaza,
it is at the White House,” he said.
Arresting officers say the two men were
given three warnings to free themselves from the fence. When the men
refused, they were hauled away to jail and charged with failure to
obey an officer in DC's criminal court.
An online Washington Post poll
conducted on Friday found that the majority (53%) of readers agreed
that the men should serve nominal jail time for their actions.
President Obama has called for repeal
of the policy that bans gay troops from revealing their sexual
orientation. Both chambers of Congress have introduced legislation
that would repeal the 1993 law.
Opponents of repeal say the law is
needed to keep good order and discipline among the ranks. A near
universal majority of Americans say the policy is discriminatory and
a majority say it should be scrapped.
The men are scheduled to return to
court on April 26, 2010.