Lt. Choi Not Pleased With Gates’ ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Changes
Lt. Dan Choi — the West Point graduate, Iraq veteran, Arabic linguist and arguably most forceful advocate for repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — had a simple question for Defense Secretary Robert Gates after Gates’ announcement of changes to the implementation of the ban on open gay military service. “Why would anybody believe this is, in any way, restoring the humanity of the service?” Choi asked during a phone interview just now.
For Choi, the issue comes down to integrity. “What’s inhumane about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the fact that soldiers have to lie,” he said. “It’s the only federal policy that enforces shame, particularly because these are soldiers willing to risk their lives to protect America.” The measure of the Obama administration’s seriousness to repeal, Choi argued, is its unwillingness to place a provision repealing it in the Defense Authorization Bill and daring senators to filibuster the Pentagon’s funding vehicle.
“What will pave the way for full repeal is a recognition and cognizance on the part of the administration,” Choi said, “that the fundamental reason to get rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is that it sacrifices, violates and compromises the integrity of all soldiers, not just gay soldiers.”
Choi was arrested after leading a protest to the gates of the White House last week to pressure President Obama to live up to his pledge of ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. At a Human Rights Campaign dinner last fall, Obama encouraged equal-rights activists to “continue to pressure leaders — including me,” and Choi said he took Obama’s words “as an order.”