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Lt. Dan Choi, You’re In The Army Now!

by David Badash on October 19, 2010

in Civil Rights,Legal Issues,Successes

Post image for Lt. Dan Choi, You’re In The Army Now!

Lt. Dan Choi, the Iraq war veteran, Arab linguist, and West Point grad turned “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal activist, today got what he had said he wanted from day one: the opportunity to serve his country in the armed forces again. This afternoon, amid dozens of reporters, and thousands of passersby — most totally unaware they were seeing history in the making — Lt. Dan Choi, the former Army infantry officer, re-enlisted in the military, this time, as an out gay man.

Lt. Choi, who has become the poster child for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law barring gays from serving openly in the military, had said from the start of his battle to force the government to accept openly gay and lesbian service members into the military, and keep them from discharging them under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” that he would be the first to re-enlist as soon as it was legal for him to do so.

Today, the military announced that it had instructed its recruiters to accept all applications even from those “who admit they are gay or lesbian.” (Sadly, the military is still using the term “admit,” rather than “acknowledge.”)

So, in a two-hour process that began at 3:58 PM, Choi got his wish. Sort of.

The twenty-nine year old had announced his intention to re-enlist, (technically, to be re-instated,) this afternoon, via Twitter. “I’m gonna try to enlist in the Marines today,” he tweeted. That brought throngs of news media and bloggers (yours, truly, had received word as well,) to Times Square.

Military recruiters, busy with another young man enlisting, kept the former Lieutenant waiting at the door for fourteen minutes. Upon seeing Choi, one recruiter picked up the phone, and many of us assumed he was calling his superiors for direction on what to do, given the special circumstances. I confess, we were surprised they weren’t prepared.

Choi had intended to enlist in the Marines, but tweeted at about 5:00 PM, “In the recruiting station. Apparently I’m too old for the Marines! Just filled out the Army application.

Just before 6:00 PM, amid dozens of reporters, Choi pushed open the door — and had to push aside the media — and waved his enlistment papers in the air.

After the media left, Dan told a few friends, “Looks like I’ve got a job now.”

But, perhaps like millions of Americans, Choi is uncertain how long he will be employed. Right now, the military is allowing openly gay men and women to serve, but only under duress. Judge Virginia Phillips yesterday indicated she was reluctant to lift the injunction she imposed on the military one week ago, forcing them to immediately end all discharges and investigations related to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

The government’s appeal, while not going well, could easily lead to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is perceived as being far more friendly to the military than Judge Phillips. The injunction that prohibits discharges and investigations could soon end, leaving Choi, and any other openly gay and lesbian recruits and service members hanging out to dry.

Just two hours earlier, Dan had said as he walked into Times Square, “It’s a day of celebration!”

And indeed it was.

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{ 12 comments }

AnthonyMason2k6 October 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Nice. Lt. Choi can go back to killing for the American Empire! Pride Power!

Janis Alanis October 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Not every soldier must fire a weapon. Just like not every poster can stay on topic.

AnthonyMason2k6 October 19, 2010 at 11:52 pm

The very fact of being in the U.S military makes you a tool for the American Empire. Why would any conscious person want to be a part of that? A part of the colonization of other people' lands and resources?

Janis Alanis October 20, 2010 at 12:12 am

You have every right to your opinion and the freedom to express it. Thanks to a soldier. You're welcome.

AnthonyMason2k6 October 20, 2010 at 12:49 am

If my so-called "freedom" is contingent upon American soldiers (gay or straight) colonizing other people' lands and resources as they are currently doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, then, by golish, I'd be more than glad to relinquish such freedom.

LOrion October 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Superb your story is now linked on HuffPo Home Page!! Great work!

atoddcunningham October 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm

For those legal experts who contend that the President is compelled to appeal the DADT ruling, I have a question. Do they also contend that the President is compelled to seek a stay of the ruling again? Do they contend that the President is compelled to immediately appeal the ruling itself?

The Pentagon also "urged" threatened Gay and Lesbian service members that they could face discharge if the ruling was reversed. They did not indicate that any incident against Gay and Lesbian service members would be dealt with harshly. They didn't say such incidents would be dealt with at all. As a result their contention that they are worried about unit cohesion seems transparently dishonest. If they were really worried about unit cohesion, that it is the first thing they would have said.

They just don't want the Gay and are willing to say anything, even under oath to prevent it.

Janis Alanis October 20, 2010 at 12:35 am

Lt. Dan Choi valiantly fought one of the toughest battles of his military career without out loading one rifle, without a bayonet, without a bomb. He simply stood up for what was right in the face of certain negativity, bigotry and fearmongering. He not only proved that the best soldier may accomplish the most sans violence but that he is exactly the kind of soldier we need to represent this country. Congratulations Lt. Choi and thank you for being such a wonderful example of right over might.

stopthehatestopthehurt October 20, 2010 at 10:15 am

Congratulations to Lt. Choi. Thank goodness for this enormous step toward equality.

Janis Alanis October 20, 2010 at 12:55 am

I think you might be on the wrong thread. This is about a man who served his country fighting for human rights only to be denied them himself and then eventually won the right to be treated with dignity and human decency that he risked his life for others to have. The 10 years too late thread is over on the 2003 page. Honest mistake.
This story is not about your precious war. No. It is far more important. It is really about Freedom. Something war has nothing to do with, so save your self righteous indignation and allow this man to celebrate the right to be true to himself. For crying out loud.

AnthonyMason2k6 October 20, 2010 at 1:05 am

Yeap. Very much looking forward to have Lt. Choi joining the Anti-War movement as conscientious objector……oh, wait, he went back and re-enlisted…..so much for freedom.

Janis Alanis October 20, 2010 at 1:12 am

I just pity you. Your obtusity shall burden you more than any ill wishing I might send your way.
Your anger would be so much more effectively useful if it were only properly directed. namaste. buena suerta.

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