During Senator Reid's speech at Netroots Nation on Saturday, the moderator handed Dan Choi's West Point ring to the Senator on behalf of former Lieutenant Choi, asking the Senator to get Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal passed.
Senator Reid Gets Dan Choi's West Point Ring As A Pledge
Senator Reid said he wouldn't keep the ring, because he didn't earn it. He tried to give it back, but the moderator said he could give it back after he passed the bill. He was pointed to Lieutenant Choi, sitting in the front, who, according to reports from people sitting nearby, stood up, approached the security screens in front of the stage, and saluted.
Security approached, looking ready to prevent an "incident." He took a step forward and saluted again.
The Senator got up, and moved towards the front of the stage.
He extended his hand, as if to shake Lieutenant Choi's hand. Security stayed back.
Choi jumped up onto the high stage in a single bound, and said something very significant to Senator Reid, pointing his finger.
Unfortunately, I don't know what he said, because my internet froze as I was watching the streaming video from my room, after having been refused admission because I forgot my Netroots badge.
Meanwhile, back in the auditorium, Reid and Choi hugged, and the accounts I received said there were many eyes glistening with tears. Even as they gave me these accounts hours later, observers were unable to stop tears as they recalled the emotions of the moment. Senator Reid then reiterated his deep support for DADT repeal and ENDA.
While many of the LGBT participants here had expressed to me deep reservations about direct action in general and GetEqual in particular, there was universal agreement among the dozen or so people that I interviewed that this was Choi's (and GetEqual's) finest hour to date. Not one person dissented from that view, a startling achievement in our fractious community.
Lt. Choi deserves a vote of thanks from our community.
Thank you, Lieutenant Choi.
Hopefully, someone else can tell us what he said.
Here's a copy of the letter Dan Choi sent Harry Reid explaining the promise of his West Point Ring:
July 24, 2010
The Honorable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader:
My West Point ring has always symbolized an irrevocable promise: my commitment to serving America and my duty to defend freedom and justice. Today, with my discharge from the army for telling the truth, the ring takes on a new meaning, serving as a symbol for the enduring pain of broken promises.
America was founded on the principles of inalienable rights, equality, and the promise of justice for all. But today, Americans remain segregated from that promise. Fired from our jobs, discriminated in the military, denied equal access to our own integrity and acknowledgement of our families, we cannot conclude that our country has manifested its own promise, over 230 years later.
You have also made personal promises to me that the senate would repeal military discrimination before the end of 2009. Indeed, you sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary Gates, claiming that was the most you could do to save my career. You promised to lead on repeal of discrimination. I believed your promise because you are the most powerful senator in America. Truly, no one can do more. The false hope of your promise has been made real to me today with another letter: the letter terminating my military service.
But I present this ring to you, symbolizing my promise as a fellow citizen: my service continues.
I promise I will hold you accountable to your obligations to lead in the effort to end discrimination, both in the workplace and in the military. My promise is not merely written on a piece of paper or words alone, but in the hearts of every lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender American fired from their jobs because of broken promises from those who purport to be our friends. History will judge us and conclude that the greatest obstacles to justice were not the loud rants of bigots, but the quiet fears of those unwilling to stand firm in the fulfillment of their commitments. I refuse to allow my friends register themselves in history as obstacles to justice.
I commit to you my renewed pledge and continued service. To you and all those "friends" who manipulate, deceive and exploit our community, I will serve as a reminder of the consequences we all pay when allegiance to political careers takes higher priority than allegiance to America's promise.
Lt. Dan Choi
US Army, Discharged under DADT
And click the link for a copy the letter Reid sent to President Obama and Secretary Gates about DADT.