One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

AirForceWife brought up a name that I’d read about recently and had to pull up again during a conversation about DADT. The chat was about milbloggers and the questions about DADT posed to Gen. Oates; more recently, another Army General has gotten himself in hot water over his staunch defense of the policy. Gen. Mixon wrote in Stars & Stripes that a majority of the military supported DADT and if they wanted it to remain in place everybody needed to write to their Congressmen to let them know how they felt (the supposed deluge of calls and letters never materialized). Gen. Oates has stated that surveys of in-theatre troops show that the vast majority just don’t care about sexual orientation the way they did in 1993.

Then she brought up Danny Choi. I had to think and search a bit, but eventually remembered that just three days ago, Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and fluent Arabic linguist, was arrested.

He and previously-discharged Captain Jim Pietrangelo handcuffed themselves to the White House fence – in uniform.

This is after Choi announced on the Rachel Maddow show that he was gay. Under the DADT policy, the Army had no alternative but to recommend firing him despite both the troops serving under him and his superiors defending him as an asset to their unit. What I’m failing to understand is how a commissioned officer arrived at the decision to pull such a stunt, in uniform, in front of the White House, before he’s fired. He was drilling with his unit just prior to the protest. What’s more, huge steps have been taken in recent months to begin the end of DADT.

This act set the gay community back light years.

Troops are forbidden from participating in protests while in uniform. Any employer retains the right to keep such a policy in place. For me, I could lose my job; for a soldier, it’s wanton disrespect to show up at the home of the Commander-in-Chief in uniform and handcuff yourself to the fence in protest of a policy that the C in C is trying to end. I don’t think Choi had in mind what kind of example he was setting for his troops. I think this was a purely political stunt. It’s one that’s going to cost us.

It wasn’t the first time he’s taken part in a protest while in uniform. He was also a highly-hailed speaker at the Equality March this past October – in his class alpha uniform. Then, as currently, he is still a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard.

It’s one thing to take a stand. It’s another to take that stand too far. I agree that Obama doesn’t have any sense of priority when it comes to this policy, but there are less disrespectful ways of rallying people to a cause. If you’re trying to win hearts and minds, you don’t act with the express intent of shocking those you are trying to convince. Those who might have been accepting of our cause have been very off-put by Choi’s actions.

Just when we’d taken a step forward, this protest took us two steps back. Now where do we go?

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4 thoughts on “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

  1. Choi has been back drilling with his unit, despite the fact that he is awaiting a decision on his DADT case. That’s a HUGE deal – and it was very quiet. But I do believe that he was invited back to drill.

    Huge deal #2.

    And what he did was go and give them a reason to kick him out aside from DADT. I hope they do – because I think that his appearing at protests in uniform, and most especially his performance at the White House – make him unfit to serve.

    When you are in the military, you are in the military first, and everything else second. Choi seems to have forgotten that in his quest for attention.

  2. Unfortunately, too many folks in the gay community seem to take the confrontational, in-your-face approach.

    And I agree–Lt. Choi is focused on mugging for the cameras and portraying himself as a gay victim celebrity. He doesn’t deserve to wear the uniform.

  3. Good Gawd. The gay right movement focuses on issues that impact a very small minority of gay folk. On and on it goes.

    Same sex marriage is a bust in every state that has it. There are zero massive hoards of same sex couples lining up to marry after day one in each state. The few that want it got it.

    How many gays are their in the military? Very few when compared to the US population as a whole.

    Hate crimes laws? Hate crimes? To rip off the TV show Life on Mars? “Hate crime? Oh so other crimes are I really really really love you crimes?” All humor aside, the vast majority of gay folk won’t be victims of hate crimes.

    How about this? 20 states and DC have laws that protect all people (heterosexuals included) for employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. This means 30 states don’t have such laws.

    Can you thrive without a place to live? Do you have a fat trust fund that pays you money so you don’t have to work a job? If you do then you are truly unique. But if you are like the rest of us you need a place to live and you need a job to get money to live. It’s nice having laws on the books that allow you to do those two things.

    Funny how the battle for big stuff is not happening.

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