Newsweek reports that Lt. Dan Choi, a highly visible figure in the debate over repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, has become a victim of that very law. Choi’s commander in the New York Army National Guard informed him this morning that he has been officially discharged.
“I got a call about five minutes ago, and my commander said he wanted me to hear it directly from him. He was very supportive and said, ‘I know this was something you didn’t want to hear.’ I said to him, ‘Thank you for your leadership.’ He’s been nothing but supportive of me throughout this whole journey.” Choi says his commander told him it was clear that “change was in the air,” and inquired as to his personal well-being. “He’s always been kind enough to ask me how I was doing, whenever we had calls or legal proceedings to go over.” Choi says he was told he had received an honorable discharge [...] and was awaiting the arrival of official documents shortly. “This doesn’t change the foundation of what I’m doing. A piece of paper doesn’t define my worth or honor, and we have a lot more work to do.” He spoke to NEWSWEEK by phone from Las Vegas, where he was recently arrested in a DADT protest action.
Choi had been fighting efforts to discharge him since last year, after he came out on national television and became a leading critic of the policy. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been the armed forces’ guiding policy for dealing with openly gay members of the military since 1993. In March, Choi criticized Defense Secretary Robert Gates for only relaxing enforcement of the policy rather than unilaterally ceasing enforcement. Earlier that month, he got himself arrested after chaining himself to a White House fence during a protest of the policy.
Efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continue to move through Congress and the military. The Pentagon is currently conducting a study into a possible repeal’s effects. A report on that study is supposed to be presented to President Obama and military officials by Dec. 1.
*Update: *The Gay City News actually reported Choi’s discharge on Tuesday, although Newsweek somewhat dubiously claimed the exclusive today.
*Later update: *Newsweek, having learned of the Gay City News scoop, has admirably taken down the “exclusive” label.