Lt. Dan Choi, the Army linguist
arrested outside the White House Thursday protesting the military's
ban on open gay service, says he was betrayed by gay rights group the
Human Rights Campaign.
Choi, 29, outed himself last year on
MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. The Army responded with an
official discharge, which Choi is fighting.
On Thursday, Choi and Capt. James E.
Pietrangelo, who was discharged under “don't ask, don't tell” in
2004, were arrested by Park Police after the men handcuffed
themselves to the White House fence. A third activist, Robin
McGehee, was also hauled away.
All three activists broke away from an
earlier protest hosted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the
nation's largest gay rights advocate, that featured comedian Kathy
Griffin and HRC President Joe Solmonese, and led a crowd from Freedom
Plaza to the White House chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho don't ask,
don't tell has got to go.”
Choi, who said he wanted to deliver a
message to President Obama, told the crowd “We will not disappear”
before McGehee helped him handcuff himself to the fence.
Both men spent the night in jail and on
Friday pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to obey an
officer. The court has scheduled an April 26 hearing.
In a Newsweek interview posted
on the glossy's website Monday, Choi said he was prepared to dedicate
himself to repeal of “don't ask, don't tell.”
“Why now?” Choi began. “Because
you get tired of talking. [Over the past two years] I've done 50
live interviews, a hundred other interviews, how much more talk am I
expected to produce?”
“We all know the political reality
now,” he continued. “Obama told us at the HRC dinner last year,
you need to put pressure on me. I was there at that dinner, in
uniform. So this is my mission; the president said to pressure him
and I heard that as a warning order.”
“When I was handcuffed to the gate
someone else asked me what's next. I'm standing there with hands
lifted skyward and I just told him, 'This is.' I have fully
committed my life and all the sacrifices necessary to manifest
equality and America's promises.”
“Like I said at court, 'I'm not
guilty, I'm not ashamed, and I'm not finished',” he said.
Choi also questioned HRC's resolve on
the issue, saying its leader betrayed him when he did not march with
him to the White House.
“If [HRC] thinks that having a rally
at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to
wonder,” he said. “Don't ask, don't tell is not a joking matter to
me. To be at Freedom Plaza and not at the White House or Congress?
Who are they trying to influence? I felt like they were just trying
to speak to themselves. If that's the best the lobbying groups and
HRC can do, then I don't know how these powerful groups are supposed
to represent our community.”
“Kathy Griffin and [HRC President]
Joe Solmonese said they would march with me to the White House but
didn't. I feel so betrayed by them,” Choi added.