Thursday, March 4, 2010

Meet Dan Choi

I am writing my final research paper for my comp class this week. The assignment was to pick a topic that we are passionate about. It has to be a current news story that will spark a debate. I chose the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. We all know that I am passionate about gay rights. After watching Soldier's Girl a few weeks ago and witnessing the horror that my friend Aaron felt at knowing this senseless killing took place on his military base while he was serving there, I could not help but jump to that topic. In researching my subject I learned so much. My thesis statement is: Don't Ask Don't Tell is bankrupting our country while compromising national security. I will post my paper when it is completed and graded but for now I want to share with you the thing that sparked debate for me more than anything.

Dan Choi was an Arabic linguist and West Point Graduate. He served in Iraq as a platoon leader in 2007 and 2008. In total he gave 10 years of service as a gay man under Don't Ask Don't Tell. In 2008, upon his return from Iraq he sparked a romance with a man. No longer willing to lie about who and what he was he went on the Rachel Maddow show in March 2009 and declared, "I am gay". This is an act of professional suicide when you are in the military. He was immediately sent a notice of discharge from the United States military. He was given the option to leave quietly with honorable discharge or to fight it. Dan Choi chose to fight. His own unit leader did not push for discharge. He actually spoke up in defense of the highly trained and respected Choi. Less than 1 year later, after much activism work and the attitude that he would never back down, Dan Choi was invited back to drill training with his unit in February of 2010.

What a risk to take in the name of being honest about who you are? Dan started
Knights Out, which is a group of West Point grads who have come together to demand the repeal of DADT. He regularly speaks at events about equality and gay rights. This year in June he will serve as Grand Marshall of the New York City pride parade. Dan has a website that does not give many details, I assume because of his current position in the military. He was not discharged but he is still in violation of the current law which means he can be discharged at any time. I e-mailed Dan through his website to ask for more information and also to let him know what a hero he is. So many Americans follow the grid; do as they are told and let the man be in control. This is a shining example of how one person can change things for many. That is not to say that I feel like repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell was reintroduced strictly because of Dan Choi but his activism and fighting spirit sure helped it along. True heroes usually fall through the cracks. I think Dan Choi is a hero to many so I wanted to formally introduce you.

The cadet prayer states: “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” How can you say that is your prayer and then tell someone it is not ok to be openly gay? I found it interesting also that while homosexual conduct can get you discharged, heterosexual conduct cannot. Just to show you how archaic our rules and regulations are: Current US policy in the Uniform Code of Military Justice actually does prohibit sodomy and oral sex, even among consenting adults and married couples.

Some other notable facts:

More than 100 retired admirals and generals support repeal.

73 percent of military personnel are comfortable with lesbians and gays (Zogby International, 2006).

Majority of weekly churchgoers (60 percent), conservatives (58 percent), and Republicans (58 percent) now favor repeal.

The younger generations, those who fight America's 21st century wars, largely don't care about whether someone is gay or not-and they do not link job performance with sexual orientation. One in four U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan or Iraq knows a member of their unit who is gay (Zogby, 2006). Since 2001, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges have declined by almost half.

During every major military conflict the number of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges has dropped.

In 1993 Rand
Corp. concluded that openly gay people in the U.S. military do not negatively impact unit cohesion, morale, good order, or military readiness. Several other military-commissioned and GAO studies have concluded that open service does not undermine military readiness, troop morale or national security.

of Americans support gays serving openly - up from just 44 percent in 1993 (ABC News/Washington Post, 2008).

Just a little food for thought on this fine Thursday.


  1. It really is so backwards, isn't it? That is crazy and powerful information about sodomy and oral sex probition.

  2. I can't wait to read the paper, T. Kick ass, woman.