by Melanie Nathan, March 28, 2013
I joined a group U.S. service members, GetEQUAL activists, as well as well known U.K. activist Peter Tatchel at the White House today, for a rally in support of Lt. Dan Choi ,who is being tried by the U.S. Government, after he was arrested in November 2010, together with 13 servicemembers and activists who chained themselves to the White House fence, protesting Don’t Ask Don’t tell.
After re-enacting part of the 2010 events, the group marched and rallied to the federal Court House where Choi is being tried.
All thirteen were arrested, however Lt. Choi was the only one of the group who did not plead guilty at the time of arrest.
Attending and called as Choi’s first witness was Rev C.T. Cordy Tindell Vivian, a close friend and lieutenant of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement. When asked by Lt. Choi what Dr. King would have said about his trial, Rev Vivian noted in court that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been there to support what is now being sought as the next wave of freedom.
The Judge offered Choi an opportunity to request the standard dismissal of the trial under the Court’s procedural rules, noting that he had the right to assert the prosecution had failed to prove its case. An extremely emotional Choi declined and noted that if he did ask for such dismissal, he believed he would be letting his fellow soldiers down.
Lt. Choi said before the trial:
“The federal prosecutor fiercely pushed this case for three years , demanding the maximum punishment: 6 months in federal prison. To date, the government lost 5 of 6 protest cases against me, but they refuse to drop this one. Even after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” this seldom-used criminal charge against me remains: “Failure to Obey.” My applications to re-enlist in the army were denied solely because of this trial. Whether it is to “teach me a lesson,” or prevent my reinstatement, or bully those who practice free speech, the prosecution will not give up.”
Pictures Cathy Kristofferson
I remember that day I saw the posts on Facebook about it. I was in Iraq. i was 8000 miles away, fighting for the rights of other people (who didn’t want us there), and these brave people were at home, fighting for mine.
Thanks Tania you are one of our heroes too.
Good Morning. First to Tania, thank YOU for your service to our country! Melanie, thank you for keeping Lt Choi’s case in our minds. Been flipping back and forth between MSNBC and CNN for three hours. Not a word about this case. You must be so tired, still, there you are at the White House, WOW! And I assume Cathy took the great shots, good for you also. Thank you for bringing LGBT news to me in the sticks.
Rod, Thanks for noticing the hard work. Yes up early and te bed late and on West Coast time.. lol
Whoot! Thanks Melanie, sharing it everywhere. Let us know the ‘rest of the story’ when you can!
Will also share this. It is signed, so I will leave that, but will not say where I got it from till I get permission:
Dan – I wanted to share with you a letter I wrote on your behalf…. March 26, 2013
Dear Angela S. George,
I am writing to you on behalf and in support of Lt. Dan Choi. I understand that you will be representing our government’s claim against Dan in a few days. I respectfully ask that you consider the question that is really at the heart of this matter. That is, what did Lt. Dan Choi actually do that warrants such an aggressive reaction by our government? The same government that is supposed to serve “We the People” and not serve itself or pursue petty grievances. The same government that was given consent to govern by “We the People” according to the guidelines and ideas written in that beautiful document that we refer to as the Constitution of the United States of America. Simply put, Dan merely exercised his right to question our government’s defense of a policy that was so inherently wrong that eventually our government, along with “We the People” changed that policy. Ms. George, it is time for the U.S. Attorney’s office to “just let it go” for many reasons.
-One, pursuing Lt. Dan Choi is a waste of the taxpayers’ money.
-Two, pursuing Lt. Dan Choi for exercising his right to protest (in our free country), what was actually proven to be a shameful policy, is embarrassing to us as a Nation. We are, after all, promoting these same civil rights, freedoms, and the right to question leadership in many other Countries around the globe.
-Three, I believe that your office will be judged as being on the wrong side of history in this matter.
-Four, to do anything to prevent Lt. Dan Choi from re-enlisting in my beloved Army and to serve our great Nation again would be to deny our ranks the benefit of serving alongside a damn fine leader and warrior.
When I was a young Lieutenant, like Dan, I was given a very valuable piece of advice from a wise and experienced Major. “If you are unwilling to stick up for yourself without surrendering when it gets hard, then you will never be able to stick up for or take care of your troops. If you don’t know what you stand for, you will never stand for anything”. Lt. Dan Choi took a stand for his troops and he should be commended for this and not persecuted.
I have come to know Dan personally and I understand him as a soldier and a human being. Dan possesses an authentic love for our Country, a sincere reverence for our Constitution, and an uncompromising belief in protecting our human rights. After all, Lt. Dan Choi raised his right hand and took an oath to defend our rights to these freedoms with the clear understanding that it could cost him his mortal life. I ask that that you acquit Dan Choi and give him back the same right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that he had sworn to defend for you….to the death if necessary. It’s just simply the right thing to do. Let it go, and let’s all move on to more constructive and positive pursuits.
(High Rank) MMR