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Dan Choi Blasts Obama, Prepares for Trial

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Thursday Aug 18, 2011

Former Lt. Dan Choi certainly knows how to stare down his opponents, but he faces the prospect of six months in prison when he goes on trial in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 29.

Federal authorities arrested Choi and 12 others from GetEQUAL in Nov. 2010 after they handcuffed themselves to the White House fence. Choi faces charges he violated a federal regulation that bans "interfering with agency functions"-in this case refusing to obey an order from the National Park Service, but Choi contends that federal authorities are using an arcane law that was last used against suffragette Alice Paul nearly a century ago to silence him from criticizing President Barack Obama and his handling of the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' He also refused to accept a plea deal in the case.

"It was clearly because we were fighting for gay rights and we said some things that annoyed the president," Choi told EDGE during a fundraiser he hosted for possible New York City Council candidate Yetta Kurland in Fire Island Pines, N.Y., on Sunday, Aug. 14. Kurland, a lawyer, will represent Choi at his trial.

Obama and the Pentagon certified the repeal of DADT late last month. The Clinton-era law will officially end on Sept. 20, but Choi remains adamant that Obama mismanaged DADT from the start.

"We particularly said that Obama is a political homophobe, he's a silent homophobe, he is disengaged in the 'don't ask, don't tell' fight... that has all been corroborated through the whole of 2010," he said, referring back to his upcoming trial. "So it's clear that political opposition is what we're truly up against."

Choi, who also faces a possible seizure of his veterans benefits if he doesn't pay the Department of Defense more than $3,000 for failure to serve the remainder of his enlistment term after the Pentagon discharged him under DADT, further discussed his pending case.

"The actual charge is obstructing traffic," he said. "That's one of the elements of the charge of failing to obey an order that was necessary for agency functions of traffic and for safety and we will contest to the very end-to the very bitter end. The only people that were obstructing anything were this administration and its DOJ and its federal prosecutors who are obstructing justice. That's the only obstruction that's happened here and it continues."

The DOJ did not respond to EDGE's request for comment.

For his part, Choi said the certification of the end of DADT should have had an immediate impact on his case-and he expects it will.

"It [will] certainly as far as the reasons why it's a moot point for anybody to keep pushing these charges-especially to waste any money on prosecuting us," he said, adding the same standard should apply during a hearing on the status of DADT in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif., on Sept. 1. "Why would the administration waste any money-especially now-putting out lawyers and dealing with it within their communications about why they're prosecuting a gay rights activist, where environmentalists and immigration activists and mountaintop removal and anti-war and Bradley Manning activists, they get charged at the lowest level possible. And when they raise up the level-trump up the charges to a federal charge-I think in their minds they wanted us to just stop."

In terms of the end of DADT becoming an issue in the 2012 presidential election, Choi said LGBT voters must make their presence known.

"Anybody who questions whether we can't be I think is betraying the strength of our community," he said. "Ours is more than just a subordinate wing to the Democratic Party."

Choi further suggested that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could prove suitable alternatives to Obama in the White House.

"We want him [Obama] to lead and time and time again he's failed," he said, referring to the health care law, Social Security, Medicare, the increase debt-ceiling and Standard and Poor's downgrading the country's credit rating. "I'm not afraid to say that 'cause I don't get paid by the DNC. You'll ask someone else who has a vested interest in making sure that Obama is protected; I have no interest in that because I don't think Obama is the best choice that we have available."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.


Comments

  • , 2011-08-18 09:30:07

    Lt. Choi is a passionate advocate, however as a commissioned officer he does not have the luxury of publicly criticizing the commander in chief or evaluate the president’s positions in the public arena. Before jumping all over me, consider that Lt. Choi took an oath of office upon his commission part of which says he will obey the orders of the commander in chief. Unfortunately his passionate advocacy turned into crackpot lunatic chaining himself to the White House fence. General McCrystal was relieved of duty (fired) because of his unprofessional comments made about the president to a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine. Lt. Choi’s comments do the same and he is only a junior officer. I feel for Lt. Choi’s predicament and also for his military career being ended by an outmoded and stupid rule, but to criticize the president for political decision making shows that Choi doesn’t know that Washington is run by politics. Over the next year I’m sure the president’s opinion on gay marriage will ’evolve’ to be fully inclusive. WANTING to put in place everything the president campaigned on and actually DOING it with the republicans in power are virtually impossible. Rather than blasting the president, Lt. Choi should focus his outrage on the republicans committed towards our collective destruction. So Lt. Choi blasts the top man I’m our corner. Great idea. Now what? Vote for Bachmann? Don’t think so. Our best chance for full recognition is to focus all our attentions on ousting the republicans and fringe right politicians from office. Bad form Lt. Choi. Bad form.


  • , 2011-08-18 12:58:00

    Sorry but you’re wrong on the oath on commission, it is to the country/constitution not to the office of president as commander in chief. The oath of a reserve officer is, inexplicably, a bit different. It would also matter whether Choi had been terminated from the reserves at the time of his statement -- I believe he had been but may be off on the timing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Uniformed_Services_Oath_of_Office United States Uniformed Services Oath of Office From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia All officers of the seven Uniformed services of the United States take swear or affirm an oath of office upon commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is required by statute, the oath being prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code.[1] It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer’s service is continuous this is not actually required.[2] One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.[3] [edit] Text of the Oath I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[1] Note that the last sentence is not required to be said if the speaker has a personal or moral objection, as is true of all oaths administered by the United States government; Article Six of the United States Constitution requires that there be no religious test for public office. The oath is for an indeterminate period; no duration is specifically defined. Officers of the National Guard of the various States, however, take an additional oath: I, [name], do solemly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___ against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___, that I make this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the Office of [grade] in the Army/Air National Guard of the State (Commonwealth, District, Territory) of ___ upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.[4]


  • , 2011-08-18 14:20:23

    Gotta raise the BS flag. If you want to talk semantics about the oath of office, fine. But how wise do you think it is to show unbridled disregard of restraint, or respect for that matter, for the President of the United States? You never once saw Col Offenbach (sp?) speak like that. This kind of hissy fit makes us all look bad. Choi should chose his words and his fights better.


  • NudistPup, 2011-08-18 22:00:31

    Have to agree with the 1st and 3rd comment. I took an oat of respect, and it’s people like this guy that is making a bad name for those still serving. Where is your dignity? you fought so we can serve openly and i respect that! However, every time you have a hissy fit or you choose to wear a uniform in public and disrespect it in front of the world, those still serving, like myself, feel ashamed of the end of DADT.


  • NudistPup, 2011-08-18 22:03:28

    Also, stop using wiki as a source of info,,,go out and read the UCMJ then then I will give you a bit a credit! Heck, serve and I will give you more!


  • , 2011-08-19 03:22:10

    If Choi wasn’t a gay man, you’d never use language like "hussy fit" to describe someone who served the country. More patriotic than you’ll ever be, mr. posting subpar and subtly sexist and homophobic comments about a man fighting for his rights.


  • NudistPup, 2011-08-19 10:21:38

    Far from homophobe bro! In fact I have been serving this country for 11 years risking my life many times for the very freedom in which you live under. Don’t tell me I am not patriotic! Also, your right, it’s hissy fit, I should have said, and anyone can have them including yourself


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