Waymon Hudson

Dan Choi Now Officially Discharged Under DADT

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 21, 2010 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Arabic linguists, Dan Choi, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay soldiers

Lieutenant Dan Choi's National Guard unit has notified him by mail and phone he has been fully disachrged and is no longer serving as an American solider. According to Gay City News:

danchoi3.jpg

Choi lost his battle with the Pentagon on June 29 when his discharge from the Army under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy was finalized. While Choi's National Guard unit informed him by registered mail and with phone messages, he has not disclosed the action. He did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Choi, an Arabic Linguist, Iraq Veteran, West Point Graduate, and Infantry Officer, has been an outspoken opponent of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, engaging in not only media and rally speeches, but also acts of civil disobedience and hunger strikes.

Choi was catapulted into the media spotlight when he came out on the The Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009. Choi then received a discharge letter following his public announcement that he was a gay soldier on Maddow's show. In response, Choi penned an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama and the United States Congress telling his story and blasting the DADT policy.

dan-choi-national-equality-march-small.jpgIn the letter, Choi challenged the morality and wisdom of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, writing that the policy is:

a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Choi is among 59 gay Arabic linguists, along with 9 gay Farsi linguists, who have faced a discharge from the U.S. military from 2004 through 2009 under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy.

Now that discharge is apparently final- he has received that slap in the face he wrote about. And one more soldier has fallen to a policy based on fear, bigotry, and discrimination.

Lt_-Choi-at-NatlEqualityMarch.jpg

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Thank you for this Waymon. Dan is doing great work in ensuring perpetual forward movement. If it weren't for attitudes and actions such as his, I feel that it is very easy for politicians and society to set aside our lives, concerns, and harms faced by us since it doesn't affect them.

Keep up the good work, Waymon.

It's my understanding that Choi will be employed by GetEQUAL. I think the deal was struck with Jonathan Lewis back in May to pay Choi $90,000 a year after he was discharged.

Choi will now make three times as much as he was paid by the Army. good for him. It will be interesting to see if he can attract a following, GetEQUAL hasn't.

It is interesting to note he charges $10,000 per speaking engagement now...

http://www.gotham-artists.com/lt_dan_choi.html

Renee Thomas | July 21, 2010 1:24 PM

What he will or won't earn following his discharge is irrelevant to the loss of a career that he clearly loved and for whom, we as a nation, will be worse off for the loss his mission critical expertise and experience.

I've had the pleasure to meet Lt. Choi on more than one occasion and what I will say is what he makes or doesn't make is irrelevant. He believes in what he's doing with every fiber of his being. One conversation with him and you'll see it coming off in waves. The man is totally iconic, and is ushering in a whole new generation of gay rights activism.

Matthew Phelps | July 21, 2010 2:35 PM

Although his discharge will now officially count him among the casualties of DADT, he did plenty to accelerate the process, and indeed left the government with little choice but to execute it. His acts of civil disobedience and making political statements in uniform (not to mention conduct that could be easily construed as unbecoming of an officer) would have led to the inevitable end of his military career. He was not, as thousands were before him, forced out by the unjust and unfair discrimination this policy brought to the American military. Although I appreciate his passion and dedication to the cause, and I share his hope that DADT will be repealed, there should be no mistake that he chose to end his own career.

Andrew and Matthew I just totally disagree with you both. Give me a break! Andreww you just come across as bitter or jealous saying things like that.

Matthew Phelps | July 21, 2010 5:59 PM

I'm not sure what you disagree with, but I'm happy to listen. My point has nothing to do with AndrewW's, so any correlation is of your own creation. Let me see if I can clarify my position.

Although Lt. Choi was clearly inspired to act based on his opposition to DADT, he chose to do so in ways that violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No member of the military is entitled to disobey this body of laws and regulations, or he will face consequences in accordance with it.

There are clearly philosophical differences between those who work within the law to change it, and those who violate it to expose the injustice. Both have historically effected change. My point is that there are thousands who were discharged by being outed, despite the fact that they made every reasonable effort to abide by the UCMJ. These are the ones who volunteered to serve in silence yet still fell victim to the discriminatory law.

Lt. Choi did not serve in silence. He chose instead to violate DADT by announcing his sexual orientation (not only publicly, but on national television), then to participate in political activities and make political statements while wearing a uniform--actions specifically prohibited by those subject to the UCMJ. His acts of civil disobedience--namely handcuffing himself to the White House Fence--would certainly call into question the conduct of an officer of the Armed Forces. He did not lose his career, he chose to sacrifice it.

Hopefully his efforts will not be in vain, and perhaps they will contribute to the efforts of many others that will eventually lead to repeal. However, to equate his discharge to that of any of the service members who truly lost their careers under DADT does them an injustice.

Heather C | July 21, 2010 3:58 PM

AndrewW, this assertion is completely fictitious and just not true. Please refrain from making unsubstantiated claims and passing them off as truth.

He was promised the job if discharged by your employer. If he hasn't been discharged yet, I guess he isn't on the payroll yet.

How are your organizational papers and strategy coming? You promised them after your Summer Camp.

According to Lt. Choi on twitter, this report is false.

"No, I have not seen any discharge papers. When/if they come, I'll show and tell. #DADT"

It just gets goofier and goofier. The story was out last night. GayCityNews asked him for a comment on his "discharge" and he didn't reply.

Why did Choi wait 18 hours? Attention?

Good grief. He might have better things to do than sitting on the internet waiting to react to rumors. Maybe he was preoccupied with last night's Vegas ENDA protest.

You seem to have a whole narrative all plotted out for him and he keeps flubbing his lines. Did you remember to give him the script?

In June, 2008 Choi transferred to the New York National Guard. He was never officially "discharged" from the Army. During that time he has been part-time with the NY National Guard. When he came out on Rachel Maddow's Show in May, 2009 that lead to his violation of DADT. He hasn't been officially discharged and he left the Army on his own a year before coming out as a Gay member of the NY National Guard - not the Army.

Renee Thomas | July 22, 2010 10:22 AM

" . . . (h)e left the Army on his own a year before coming out as a Gay member of the NY National Guard - not the Army."

For all practical purposes . . . a distinction in search of a difference - both predictably typical and intellectually shallow of you Andrew.

As of yesterday Dan Choi is denying he has been discharged. Although the Army and National Guard says that he signed a certified mail receipt back in June with their official notification, he says "he's never seen it." They also claim that they have left him numerous "phone messages."

From the Gay City News yesterday:

In a series of email exchanges and phone conversations beginning on July 14, Lieutenant Colonel Paul A. Fanning, the state public affairs officer for the New York National Guard, told Gay City News that Choi’s discharge was effective as of June 29. Choi was informed of his discharge with multiple phone messages and by registered mail for which the unit has a receipt, Fanning said.

“A lot of phone call messages, recorded messages, were left with him,” he said in a July 21 phone message to Gay City News. “All possible efforts were made to make him aware of his situation. We made every effort to contact him... to inform him of the Army decision.”

“I have not received any such correspondence, I have not been discharged as far as I know,” Choi said. “As far as I know, I am still serving.”

Choi said he had received none of them.

Maybe the National Guard is lying. Maybe not.

Link: http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2010/07/21/gay_city_news/news//doc4c477465b48b6544277653.txt

Kudos to Mathew Phelps for the balanced comments.

There is a difference between civil disobedience and what Dan Choi (can't let him have the title "Lt" anymore) does while in uniform. His actions and words make me wonder if he was only using the uniform and service to propel his visibility.

Dan Choi's energy, if properly focused, can serve the movement well. For example, his civil disobedience can draw attention to the lack of gay rights or lack of movement on ENDA.

Dan Choi's actions in uniform don't serve us well. I regret that the NY National Guard discharged Dan Choi for being inherently gay instead of his inappropriate actions in uniform. Our country should let gays serve in the military...not members who break rules and disregard military tradition.

His acts in uniform are repulsive to the many that serve and 'don't tell' while they work to have DADT repealed through legal means. There are 230+ years of this military tradition or UCMJ law that restrict actions while in uniform. He has blatantly disregarded it when he has chained himself to the White House fence and when he took off his shoulder boards to make a point about 'giving up future rank and pay' to get DADT repealed. In this last instance, he basically called those who remain in service without coming out as cowards. Last time I checked, the men and women I know in the service, gay or straight, in or out, and serving domestically or internationally are not cowards.

Here is to the repeal of DADT and to those gay members who want to continue to serve in or get back in the military.

With Dan Choi's actions and words, I am not sure he is one of them.