News Law and Policy

Trial Against Lt. Dan Choi for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Protest Set for Thursday

Erin Matson

The case concerns whether Lt. Choi should serve up to six months of jail time or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of the DADT policy in November 2010. Choi argues that since DADT has since been repealed, his charges should be dropped.

With much press devoted to the Supreme Court arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, not everyone may be aware that LGBTQ rights are on trial in a third case this week: United States v. Daniel Choi.

The case concerns whether Lt. Dan Choi should serve up to six months in jail or pay a fine of up to $5,000 for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy in November 2010. An Iraq war veteran, Arabic linguist, and West Point graduate, Choi was discharged for “coming out” while DADT was still in effect. He has been arrested while engaging in several high-profile acts of non-violent civil disobedience and activism, including three White House DADT protests, a White House protest of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a gay pride parade in Moscow.

Choi was one of 12 activists arrested during the November 2010 DADT protest, but he is the only one with an ongoing trial; the others pled guilty. Choi argues that since DADT has since been repealed, his charges should be dropped.

The trial will take place Thursday, March 28 at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Choi and supporters are encouraging a number of actions in support of ending the trial, including sending letters of support to the presiding judge, signing petitions, and attending the trial Thursday morning.

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