Howard Dean, the former chairman of the
Democratic National Committee, and Lt. Dan Choi led a rally in
protest against “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that
prohibits gay troops from serving openly, as six more activists
chained themselves to the White House fence Sunday.
With his shirt sleeves rolled up, no
tie, Dean called out to the crowd: “The American people know this
is the right thing to do.”
“If somebody's brave enough to take a
bullet for the U.S., they deserve full equality,” he added.
The rally was held across the street
from the White House, in Lafayette Park. After being arrested twice
for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of the
policy, Choi has been barred by police from approaching the White
“We are not afraid,” he said. “We
stood in the front lines for war; today we stand on the front lines
for justice. Love is worth fighting for!”
Most of the speakers took exception to
Barack Obama's recent comments that he agrees with the advice of
military leaders that legislative action should come after the
Pentagon completes its internal review of how best to implement
changes should Congress repeal the law.
“We will not stand idly by while you
renege on your promise, Mr. President,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive
director of Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal of the
law, said. “We will keep knocking on the door of the White House!”
“Separate is never equal,” he
added. “This is a civil rights issue!”
from the protest, Kerry Eleveld, a reporter with gay glossy the
Advocate, announced that “Choi served as a diversion” as
“regular folks went to the [White House] fence and handcuffed
As protesters chanted “We will not,
disappear. We'll remember, in November,” police arrested the six
activists after cutting them down from the fence.
It was the third time “Don't Ask”
protesters have handcuffed themselves to the White House fence.
Robinson tweeted from the rally: “I've been crying so hard I'm
going to look like a hot mess riding home on the Metro. So proud of
this community today.”
The rally was sponsored by the nascent
gay rights group GetEqual
led by lesbian activist Robin McGehee. The group was also behind a
“Don't Ask” action that interrupted Obama
as he spoke in California for fellow Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer
and a House
committee disruption urging movement on ENDA, an employment gay
protections bill stuck in the committee.