News broke last night in the Gay City News that Lieutenant Dan Choi's discharge has been quietly finalized on June 29. He has "been separated" from service, the preferred DOD euphemism for "kicked to the curb" or "fired."
If true, it's odd to me that Choi and his friends at GetEQUAL were so quiet on this development. Undersell is not usually their MO. And discharging the most recognizable face of the repeal movement certainly offered a fantastic opportunity to put the unjust reality of this policy back into the American public's face.
Whatever the reason for the silence, the development is another sad and shameful chapter in this country's history. Choi has demonstrated smarts, courage and incredible leadership skills. There is no conceivable way this is a net plus for our national security.
[See Update below: Choi says he never received paperwork. News of his discharge is now in question. Now sure where Gay City News is getting their information and they haven’t update as of this posting.]
Just as Dan refused to respect an unjust law, I do too. I refuse to strip references to veterans' titles to discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. Whatever the rules are, I reject the military has such authority based on a law that is wrong, unjust and immoral.
The lieutenant's discharge is no more valid than law on which it is based. We all know, in our hearts, whatever our politics, the oppressive, regressive DADT law is a shameful American abomination. We know any process that codifies baseless bigotry into law is invalid under the Constitution. And I trust soon the Supreme Court will soon agree.
I will continue to refer to him by title, as I will Captain James Pietrangelo and the Blend's own Captain Tanya and First Class Petty Officer Autumn.
The military may be able to strip the uniform off their backs, and the stars and stripes from their shoulders.
<strong>But they cannot strip from me the respect I have for their service to our country.</strong> They cannot strip from me the recognition of their humanity and the injustice our country is perpetrating upon them. And I will continue to honor their service, not this country's homophobia. Call it my own civilly disobedient contribution to the cause.
It is, however, the gay community's good fortune we will now be free to claim this great man–this great leader–as ours and ours alone. The forces of bigotry and oppression will surely snatch defeat–not victory–from having "won" this battle. An unencumbered Lt. Dan Choi will be a very formidable force for Equality and Justice. We salute your courage and strength Lieutenant, the community stands at attention, awaiting your command.
The picture of Courage and Leadership: Lieutenant Choi, with Constance McMillen and Judy Shepard and family at New York City's Gay Pride March, June 2010.
Big Update: This may explain the curious silence. I recieved an email from Lieutenant Choi. He told me:
“I haven’t been informed yet. I don’t have a copy of any such discharge papers.”
Apparently, if this report is true, Lieutenant Choi was the last to know.
And yet another lesson on checking your facts before you run with the story:
“It’s also strange to hear this information from the reporter AFTER he writes the article. That I’m supposedly discharged. He did not know if it was an honorable or “other than honorable” discharge because he must have not seen the reported papers either.”
So, discharged? Not discharged? Stay tuned.
No, I have not seen any discharge papers. When/if they come, I’ll show and tell. #DADT
I guess there’s no need to speculate what price he sold his silence for?