Alex Blaze

Sit-in in SF for ENDA; Dan Choi arrested protesting DADT

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 18, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Dan Choi, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Jim Petriangelo, Kathy Griffin, LGBT, military, Washington, Washington D.C., White House

This is breaking - GetEqual (Kip Williams who helped organize the National Equality March) is staging a sit-in in Nancy Pelosi's office to get the ENDA moving forward. This is part of the big blog swarm that Jillian Weiss set up for today.

Also, Kerry Eleveld is reporting that Dan Choi and Jim Pietrangelo have been arrested at White House after chaining themselves to the fence for about an hour. Robin McGehee was the first arrested as she helped Choi and Pietrangelo handcuff themselves to the fence.


They came from an HRC rally against DADT and got into a fired up protest:

Police officers are blocking the gates of the White House with yellow tape and are pushing back about 100 protesters, who are chanting DADT repeal slogans and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

ABC got film footage:

Kathy Griffin, who HRC brought into DC to lobby for DADT repeal and called the Democratic minority whip a "big queen," was at the rally. According to JMG, this was her event and Choi upstaged her. According to Eleveld, she said she'd go to the White House with Choi and then didn't.

Kathy Griffin, who was in Washington at the behest of HRC to meet with members of Congress about DADT repeal, was also at the rally. When asked by Choi if she would march with him to the White House, Griffin responded, "Of course!"

Neither Griffin nor Solmonese was seen at the White House protest, however.

DC Agenda confirms that they were invited and that they weren't there, but they didn't catch the "Of course!"


Lez Get Real has a source who says that people tried to talk Choi out of getting arrested:

According to this source, who is close to Lt. Choi, a number of people tried to talk him out of his plan. With the repeal underway and the study going full throttle, it is a delicate time in the repeal of DADT. This means that anything that could be seen as being problematic or aggrandizing or taking this issue less than seriously could bolster the position of those in opposition to the MREA and make passage that much more difficult.

DC Agenda also says that there was a counterprotester:

At one point, police directed the protestors to stand at the nearby Lafayette Square, where one woman in the midst of the crowd kneeled with her hands raised, praying for the souls of gay people. At least one person told the woman that she should instead pray for equality.

The White House says there's no meeting scheduled:




These three photos courtesy of Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate. Be sure to follow her for up-to-the minute updates on Dan Choi's protest.

And back in San Francisco, here's a photo of the sit-in:


I'll have more as we get more information.

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There is also a protest at Pelosi's DC office. Updates on twitter @getequal

These publicity stunts will only make it worse. Pelosi and other Democrats will now back off completely.

One minor correction: This isn't part of Dr. Weiss's blogswarm. That stands alone. These protests were all organized by GetEQUAL. They just coordinated so both would happen on the same day.

This action will force Pelosi and others to say "we don;t have the votes." Is that what GetEqual wanted to hear?

A. J. Lopp | March 18, 2010 7:27 PM

Bravo for Dan Choi!

I only wish that he had organized a hundred protesters to handcuff themselves to the White House fence. Or 500. (Get me to DC and I would be one of them.)

On October 13, 1987 I was one of several hundred protesters who got arrested in front of the Supreme Court in protest of Bowers v. Hardwick ... and in 2003 Lawrence v. Texas overturned Bowers. Did our protest cause the Supremes to think a little harder on this matter? We'll never know, but I tend to think so.

A. J. Lopp | March 18, 2010 7:31 PM

P.S. Generally I like Kathy Griffin --- but these events should not be marred by bickering about who upstaged who. Both health care and repeal of DADT are too important for that style of pettiness.

I don't often read "lezgetreal" so I'm uncertain of their bias [and EVERYONE has one...I spoke to Dan myself yesterday about his plans], but that they chose to print an attack on Dan by someone without the guts to identify themselves...and one full of factual indefensible.

"With the repeal underway..."

Uh, NO, repeal DISCUSSION is underway. HUGE difference!

"and the study going full throttle..."

OK, this is what makes the first misstatement obviously INTENTIONAL. "The Study," whose results aren't promised until Dec. 1, has barely started. Let this shill for Obama Inc. er excuse me anonymous "source" identify two things they've accomplished and "smoke and mirrors" don't count.

"it is a delicate time in the repeal of DADT. This means that anything that could be seen as being problematic ..."

HOW exactly would civil disobedience designed to draw further attention to what the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the sponsor of the Senate bill, and Barney Frank have already publicly said themselves: that the White House has dropped the ball, be "problematic" ... EXCEPT for the White House?

"....or aggrandizing ..."

Oooooh, there's the ad hominem switch blade—we're to suspect that Dan Choi is solely doing this FOR HIMSELF....AS IF he has anything to personally gain from violating two sections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and risking losing an "honorable" classification with his [in the absence of repeal] discharge and its attendant benefit.

"or taking this issue less than seriously..."

Ah, ad hominem slash #2. But perhaps lezgetreal got their quotes crossed, here and above, and the "source" was actually talking about Kathy Griffin indisputably in town for, whatever she might contribute or distract from the DADT discussion, filming a segment for the show for which earns a salary. Will Dan get a fee for HIS appearance in her special?

"could bolster the position of those in opposition to the MREA and make passage that much more difficult."

Of course, the Obambot er "source" doesn't explain HOW someone who has already been known for a year as someone willing to sacrifice HIS career to help end DADT doing this could make opponents to repeal ANY MORE opposed. Can anyone imagine John McShame bleating, "Gosh darn it! I was just about to stop my decades of queer baiting for the dinosaurs in the Pentagon and call for a unanimous motion to repeal this sucker when a West Point grand and Arabic speaking veteran decided to follow in the footsteps of all kinds of other discriminated-against Americans and exercise his right of nonviolent civil disobedience. Phooey!"?

That more than a year after Obama missed the due date he scheduled himself to start actively FIGHTING to repeal DADT and barely 8 months before time will run out to repeal at all once more Trogs are elected to Congress there are LGBT sites such as lez still publishing the distractions and lies of shills for the administration that wishes we would just shut up and go away is evidence of exactly WHY this escalaton to civil disobedience is LONG overdue!

Bravo Dan!!!


Thank you for being one of the first to weigh-in on the actions of Lt. Choi; your unique position carries a bit of heft, as far as I'm concerned, when issues of DADTDP arise.

I was actually going to write you, privately, to ask how today's actions might play in Lt. Choi's current service - is it likely his discharge will now no longer be in "limbo" status and, instead, actively instigated? Is he likely to, now, face additional charges before a military tribunal following today's arrest? If he does, will the SDLN furnish him with an attorney?

Lt. Choi brought instant media attention to "DADTDP" through his actions today. Myself, I have no doubt that had Lt. Choi's "handcuffing to the White House fence" taken place during the previous President's administration, they would be more than willing to search for a way to declare Choi an "enemy combatant," (through some twisted, perverse logic) have him detained at Gitmo, and use the incident to not only strengthen DADTDP, but to being a very public purge of the homosexually oriented from all branches of the military.

Well, Pelosi said it:

“The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority, and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes.

Now, what's the Plan to get enough votes? More harassment and silly stunts?

Nobody changes their mind because we get mad and make empty demands.

Andrew, you state:

"Now, what's the Plan to get enough votes? More harassment and silly stunts?

Nobody changes their mind because we get mad and make empty demands."


Andrew, I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to ask you a question of a personal nature.

What is your age?

The reason I ask that question is you don't seem to have a grasp of how gay rights advancements have been made.

In June, 1969, a group of trans persons - be they transvestites or transsexuals is lost to history; at that time, there was seldom such a distinction made between the two groups - and a few gay men simply, collectively, got tired of being hassled by the NYC police - the eternal circle of being raided, being arrested (one NYC law actually forbade two members of the same gender for establishing eye contact in a public drinking establishment), blowing a few of the arresting officers and not being hauled in, or refusing to allow the police to, for all intents and purposes, rape them for the purpose of avoiding arrest and, thus, facing criminal charges and public exposure - got angry.

They picked up bricks from a construction site, and rocks from the streets. They showed force against - at first - a small phalanx of "New York City's Finest" and then, later, a growing battalion of police who wanted nothing more than to impose their superiority through brute force... and the more brutal, the better.

For three days, a battle waged in New York's Lower East Side, but at the end of three days, when the police force finally "won," a new, respectful, way of thinking had quickly spread, nationwide, from that little bar in NYC.

In today's terms, the idea was the equivalent of a YouTube video gone viral.

A modicum of respect was given to homosexual men and women by city and state governments. Not much, but enough that simply existing was no longer reason enough to be arrested, or institutionalized to psychiatric facilities.

For almost a decade, that seemed to be enough. Until one local politician in California dreamed of bigger, more basic changes. Time after time, the politician sought office, so the politician could simply lay the groundwork on which those small, basic changes could be legislated into existence. The politician got elected, but was never able to really see his groundwork come into fruition, as he was assassinated by another politician who feared him.

When his killer was merely slapped on the wrist, however, the followers of that politician took to the streets and nearly destroyed the city hall of the city that politician had been elected to serve. The numbers were so large that, this time, it was the police who took refuge inside a building - hiding from the angry, distraught homosexuals. When the police, later that same night, went on a rampage through the "gay area" of that city, they found that, for the first time, the city's homosexuals were willing to stand in the middle of their streets and sidewalks... and fight back.

Ironically, it was the punishment meted the politician's killer which set the politicians plans for basic change into motion; by the time the killer was released from prison - within a decade of the killing - the politician's changes were enshrined, not just into local law, but in state law, as well.

Less than a decade later, when the federal government seemed more than willing to associate a communicable disease solely and exclusively to homosexual conduct, and use that association as an excuse to not fund research into the cause, and possible treatment options, of that disease, angry homosexual men and women, along with their supporters, formed groups, nationwide, for the sole purpose of exhibiting civil unrest.

The groups would appear at publicized public events of politicians associated with moralizing a contagion; the unrest ran the gamut of simply "out shouting" speakers at these political events to "die-ins," where groups would simply fall to the ground, remaining in whatever position their body took in that fall, while other members of the group placed tape around the outline of their body, so that when the "dead" who surrounded the stage were picked up and carted off by the police, the effect was to mimic the chalk-line of a body at a crime scene.

Some of these groups would simply march through town and cities, the only reason for the march to promote visibility - to remind their neighbors they existed; they were of a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, and they weren't going away; making that reminder at the top of their voices in a rhyming chant.

The federal government changed their position, recognizing a contaminant was incapable of determining sexual orientation, and finally admitting what the gay community had known all along: There were tens of thousands of persons suffering from the same illness who were not gay.

Stonewall. The killing of Harvey Milk and the White Night Riots. ACT-UP and Queer Nation. They've all proven that, too often, for gays and lesbians it is only after we are publicly angry... only after we willingly commit "crimes" of non-violent expression that non-homosexuals turn their heads toward us, listen to our public debate, and say: "You know what... they're right. This is wrong."

Wake up Eric. It's 2010. The world has changed.

All we did today was look foolish and embarrass many of our supporters.

It's not 1969 - people know about our struggle. We don't need to do publicity stunts because those actions DO NOT change minds. In fact, they just make us look desperate and stupid.

Eric Payne | March 19, 2010 1:19 AM


That's why we're allowed to enter into civil marriage with the persons we love, and why we no longer have to fear exposure - and possible job loss and possible eviction from our homes, not to mention why we're allowed to serve, openly, in the military of the country... because we've said "please" and "thank you" as legislators, without hesitation, gave us the full civil rights we deserve as citizens of this country.

Oh... wait... that hasn't happened, had it?

Any evidence Eric? We are looking for evidence that these publicity stunts work.

Eric Payne | March 19, 2010 8:03 PM

Only anecdotal evidence, Andrew.

When these incidents of civil disobedience - along with the resulting publicity surrounding those events - were occurring, drastic changes went into effect.

Subsequently, when we've all bee good little girls and boys, raised our hands, waited to be called upon, then politely asked those same changes be implemented... when our requests are not just simply denied, we're told there has to be a long-term "study" to "determine what the outcome" might be.

Kudos to Dan, Robin and Kip. I love that picture of Robin getting arrested. That's one for the mantle.

Kudos, indeed. Results? Well, not apparent. If Bilerico wants to promote this type of behavior, I hope you are prepared to present its effectiveness.

Tell us HOW these stunts help persuade people to support us. Maybe that would inspire more than a few dozen "activists" to do these stunts. If they are effective - we'll ALL do them. SHOW us how they're effective.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

If someone thinks direct action or lobbying is ineffective then they are more than welcome not to engage in those activities. In my opinion, to openly and consistently criticize people for doing these things while offering vague and ambiguous alternatives is counterproductive and unfriendly to the community.

We need to use ALL the tools at our disposal to fight for our rights. Yes, we need to convince people that we are in the right. We need to convince people to support us in our struggle for equality. Yet limiting our tools to one of asking politely and trying to convince the public with nice words is near sighted and ultimately ineffective. This needs to be done, of course, but lobbying and direct action need to accompany those words, otherwise people won't think we are serious enough and the politicians will continue to think it's safe to ignore our demands.

We need to do it all, we need to use all the tools at hand. To do otherwise is to give up the fight before it even begins.

Your endorsement of public displays of anger and frustration is not EVIDENCE.

We DO need to determine how effective tactics are and we DO need to provide useful, effective things for people to do.

If you have evidence that these publicity stunts are helpful please provide it - otherwise it would help the community if we stopped engaging in counterproductive efforts.

We have been irritating the hell out of Nancy Pelosi and yesterday she said she agreed with us "but we don't have the votes." That was a response to our harassment. It didn't help. It probably means we have now lost her already negligible support. If we wanted to turn her against us, these last few days have been very helpful.

All the previous successful fights for civil equality used all the tools I mentioned, including direct action. All of them. That's all the proof I need.

We're not Black. We're not women. And, it's 2010.

Circumstances have changed and the issues are very different. In today's world communicate is more useful than demonstrate. We have the opportunity to communicate in ways that weren't even imagined 50 years ago.

These facts change everything related to our efforts. Ignoring them isn't helpful.