President Obama Signs Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”: “Out of Many, We Are One”


President Obama Signs Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”: “Out of Many, We Are One”
Barack Obama
Department of Interior
Washington, D.C.
December 22, 2010
(source)


A longer video is available from CSPAN here: http://cs.pn/fsqMCW

9:10 A.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, folks, how are you? (Applause.) It’s a good day. (Applause.) It’s a real good day. As some of my colleagues can tell you, this is a long time in coming. But I am happy it’s here.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Please be seated.

It was a great five-star general and President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said, “Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness and consideration, and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace.”

By repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” today, we take a big step toward fostering justice, fairness and consideration, and that real cooperation President Eisenhower spoke of.

This fulfills an important campaign promise the President and I made, and many here on this stage made, and many of you have fought for, for a long time, in repealing a policy that actually weakens our national security, diminished our ability to have military readiness, and violates the fundamental American principle of fairness and equality — that exact same set of principles that brave gay men and women will now be able to openly defend around the world. (Applause.)

It is both morally and militarily simply the right thing to do. And it’s particularly important that this result was fully supported by those within the military who are charged with implementing it. And I want to pay particular respect, just as a personal note — as we used to say, I used to be allowed to say in the Senate, a point of personal privilege — Admiral Mullen, you’re a stand-up guy. (Applause.) I think they like you. (Applause.)

He already has enough power. Don’t — (laughter.)

And it couldn’t have been done without these men and women leading our military. And certainly it could not have been done without the steady, dedicated and persistent leadership of the President of the United States. (Applause.)

Mr. President, by signing this bill, you will be linking military might with an abiding sense of justice. You’ll be projecting power by promoting fairness, and making the United States military as strong as they can be at a time we need it to be the strongest.

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States of America, the Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: Yes, we did! Yes, we did! Yes, we did!

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you! Yes, we did.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT: You are welcome. (Applause.)

This is a good day.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes, it is!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: You rock, President Obama!

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you, thank you. (Laughter.)

You know, I am just overwhelmed. This is a very good day. (Applause.) And I want to thank all of you, especially the people on this stage, but each and every one of you who have been working so hard on this, members of my staff who worked so hard on this. I couldn’t be prouder.

Sixty-six years ago, in the dense, snow-covered forests of Western Europe, Allied Forces were beating back a massive assault in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge. And in the final days of fighting, a regiment in the 80th Division of Patton’s Third Army came under fire. The men were traveling along a narrow trail. They were exposed and they were vulnerable. Hundreds of soldiers were cut down by the enemy.

And during the firefight, a private named Lloyd Corwin tumbled 40 feet down the deep side of a ravine. And dazed and trapped, he was as good as dead. But one soldier, a friend, turned back. And with shells landing around him, amid smoke and chaos and the screams of wounded men, this soldier, this friend, scaled down the icy slope, risking his own life to bring Private Corwin to safer ground.

For the rest of his years, Lloyd credited this soldier, this friend, named Andy Lee, with saving his life, knowing he would never have made it out alone. It was a full four decades after the war, when the two friends reunited in their golden years, that Lloyd learned that the man who saved his life, his friend Andy, was gay. He had no idea. And he didn’t much care. Lloyd knew what mattered. He knew what had kept him alive; what made it possible for him to come home and start a family and live the rest of his life. It was his friend.

And Lloyd’s son is with us today. And he knew that valor and sacrifice are no more limited by sexual orientation than they are by race or by gender or by religion or by creed; that what made it possible for him to survive the battlefields of Europe is the reason that we are here today. (Applause.) That’s the reason we are here today. (Applause.)

So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” (Applause.) It is a law — this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.

No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military -– regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance -– because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love. (Applause.)

As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.” (Applause.)

That’s why I believe this is the right thing to do for our military. That’s why I believe it is the right thing to do, period.

Now, many fought long and hard to reach this day. I want to thank the Democrats and Republicans who put conviction ahead of politics to get this done together. (Applause. I want to recognize Nancy Pelosi — (applause) — Steny Hoyer — (applause) — and Harry Reid. (Applause.)

Today we’re marking an historic milestone, but also the culmination of two of the most productive years in the history of Congress, in no small part because of their leadership. And so we are very grateful to them. (Applause.)

I want to thank Joe Lieberman — (applause) — and Susan Collins. (Applause.) And I think Carl Levin is still working — (laughter) — but I want to add Carl Levin. (Applause.) They held their shoulders to the wheel in the Senate. I am so proud of Susan Davis, who’s on the stage. (Applause.) And a guy you might know — Barney Frank. (Applause.) They kept up the fight in the House. And I’ve got to acknowledge Patrick Murphy, a veteran himself, who helped lead the way in Congress. (Applause.)

I also want to commend our military leadership. Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a topic in my first meeting with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs. (Applause.) We talked about how to end this policy. We talked about how success in both passing and implementing this change depended on working closely with the Pentagon. And that’s what we did.

And two years later, I’m confident that history will remember well the courage and the vision of Secretary Gates — (applause) — of Admiral Mike Mullen, who spoke from the heart and said what he believed was right — (applause) — of General James Cartwright, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs; and Deputy Secretary William Lynn, who is here. (Applause.) Also, the authors of the Pentagon’s review, Jeh Johnson and General Carter Ham, who did outstanding and meticulous work — (applause) — and all those who laid the groundwork for this transition.

And finally, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women in this room who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Services. (Applause.) I want to thank all the patriots who are here today, all of them who were forced to hang up their uniforms as a result of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — but who never stopped fighting for this country, and who rallied and who marched and fought for change. I want to thank everyone here who stood with them in that fight.

Because of these efforts, in the coming days we will begin the process laid out by this law. Now, the old policy remains in effect until Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen and I certify the military’s readiness to implement the repeal. And it’s especially important for service members to remember that. But I have spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed to implementing this change swiftly and efficiently. We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done. (Applause.)

Now, with any change, there’s some apprehension. That’s natural. But as Commander-in-Chief, I am certain that we can effect this transition in a way that only strengthens our military readiness; that people will look back on this moment and wonder why it was ever a source of controversy in the first place.

I have every confidence in the professionalism and patriotism of our service members. Just as they have adapted and grown stronger with each of the other changes, I know they will do so again. I know that Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, as well as the vast majority of service members themselves, share this view. And they share it based on their own experiences, including the experience of serving with dedicated, duty-bound service members who were also gay.

As one special operations warfighter said during the Pentagon’s review — this was one of my favorites — it echoes the experience of Lloyd Corwin decades earlier: “We have a gay guy in the unit. He’s big, he’s mean, he kills lots of bad guys.” (Laughter.) “No one cared that he was gay.” (Laughter.) And I think that sums up perfectly the situation. (Applause.)

Finally, I want to speak directly to the gay men and women currently serving in our military. For a long time your service has demanded a particular kind of sacrifice. You’ve been asked to carry the added burden of secrecy and isolation. And all the while, you’ve put your lives on the line for the freedoms and privileges of citizenship that are not fully granted to you.

You’re not the first to have carried this burden, for while today marks the end of a particular struggle that has lasted almost two decades, this is a moment more than two centuries in the making.

There will never be a full accounting of the heroism demonstrated by gay Americans in service to this country; their service has been obscured in history. It’s been lost to prejudices that have waned in our own lifetimes. But at every turn, every crossroads in our past, we know gay Americans fought just as hard, gave just as much to protect this nation and the ideals for which it stands.

There can be little doubt there were gay soldiers who fought for American independence, who consecrated the ground at Gettysburg, who manned the trenches along the Western Front, who stormed the beaches of Iwo Jima. Their names are etched into the walls of our memorials. Their headstones dot the grounds at Arlington.

And so, as the first generation to serve openly in our Armed Forces, you will stand for all those who came before you, and you will serve as role models to all who come after. And I know that you will fulfill this responsibility with integrity and honor, just as you have every other mission with which you’ve been charged.

And you need to look no further than the servicemen and women in this room — distinguished officers like former Navy Commander Zoe Dunning. (Applause.) Marines like Eric Alva, one of the first Americans to be injured in Iraq. (Applause.) Leaders like Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who led a platoon into northern Iraq during the initial invasion, quelling an ethnic riot, earning a Bronze Star with valor. (Applause.) He was discharged, only to receive emails and letters from his soldiers saying they had known he was gay all along — (laughter) — and thought that he was the best commander they ever had. (Applause.)

There are a lot of stories like these — stories that only underscore the importance of enlisting the service of all who are willing to fight for this country. That’s why I hope those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who have been discharged under this discriminatory policy will seek to reenlist once the repeal is implemented. (Applause.)

That is why I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform: Your country needs you, your country wants you, and we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known. (Applause.)

Some of you remembered I visited Afghanistan just a few weeks ago. And while I was walking along the rope line — it was a big crowd, about 3,000 — a young woman in uniform was shaking my hand and other people were grabbing and taking pictures. And she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, “Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.” (Laughter and applause.) And I said to her, “I promise you I will.” (Applause.)

For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.” (Applause.) We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. (Applause.) Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the ideals that we uphold today. And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you, Mr. President!

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you!

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We’re here, Mr. President. Enlist us now. (Laughter.)

(The bill is signed.)

THE PRESIDENT: This is done. (Applause.)

END
9:35 A.M. EST

Lady Gaga: The Prime Rib of America (On Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell)


by Lady Gaga
SLDN rally: “For the 14,000”: A Rally for the 14,000+ Discharged
Portland, Maine
September 20, 2010

Good afternoon. Can you all hear me?

I wrote this speech, this address, myself, I’ve spent 48 hours trying to find the perfect thing to say. My address to you today is called “The Prime Rib of America.”

I do, solemnly swear, or affirm, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to do the same, and I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the uniform code of military justice, so help me God.

Unless, there’s a gay soldier in my unit, sir.

That is the oath taken every day by service members of the Armed Forces when they enlist to serve their country. Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I’m gay, I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer. There are amazing heroes here today, whose stories are more powerful that any story I could tell, any fight I’ve ever fought, and any song that I could tell. I’m here because they inspire me. I’m here because I believe in them. I’m here because “don’t ask, don’t tell” is wrong. … It’s unjust, and fundamentally, it is against all that we stand for as Americans.

The Pentagon and senators such as John McCain have cited that the military is a unique institution, they have cited that homosexuals serving openly cause disruption to unit cohesion and morale. So what this means is, that they’re saying that straight soldiers feel uncomfortable around gay soldiers, and sometimes it causes tension, hostility and possible performance inadequacies for straight soldiers who are homophobic. And even though some studies have been done to show an overwhelming and remarkable lack of disruption to units with gay soldiers, I will, for a moment, entertain this debate. As I am less concerned with refuting the fact that, in the workplace, in any workplace, there are tensions, there is even more of a possibility to have tension when you’re fighting for your life. But I’m more concerned that John McCain and other Republican senators are using homophobia as a defense in their argument. As the nexus of this law, openly gay soldiers affect unit cohesion, like it’s OK to discriminate or discharge gay soldiers because we are homophobic, we are uncomfortable, and we do not agree with homosexuality, and I can’t focus on the field of duty when I am fighting. “We have a problem with you.” Wasn’t that the defense of Matthew Shepard’s murderers? When they left him to die on a fence in Laramie, they told the judge, ‘Oh, Matthew’s gay, and it made us uncomfortable, so we killed him.’ ‘Oh, he’s gay, it makes me uncomfortable, send him home.’ As a side note, both Matthew Shepard’s killers have life sentences in prison, and laws have since been passed that homophobia cannot be used as defense anymore in hate crimes in our judicial system.

Doesn’t it seem to be that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is backwards? Doesn’t it seem to be that, based on the Constitution of the United States, that we’re penalizing the wrong soldier? Doesn’t it seem to you that we should send home the prejudiced, the straight soldier who hates the gay soldier, the straight soldier whose performance in the military is affected because he is homophobic, the straight soldier who has prejudice in his heart, in the space where the military asks him to hold our core American values, he instead holds and harbors hate, and he gets to stay and fight for our country? He gets the honor, but we gay soldiers, who harbor no hatred, no prejudice, no phobia, we’re sent home? I am here today because I would like to propose a new law; a law that sends home the soldier that has the problem. Our new law is called “if you don’t like it, go home.” A law that discharges the soldier with the issue, the law that discharges the soldier with the real problem, the homophobic soldier that has the real negative effect on unit cohesion. A law that sends home the homophobe, a law that sends home the prejudiced. A law that doesn’t prosecute the gay soldier who fights for equality with no problem, but prosecutes the straight soldier who fights against it. Or perhaps that was a bit spun. … To be fair, it sends home the straight soldier who fights for some freedoms, for some equalities, but not for the equality of the gay. He is the one — or she is the one — under this new proposition who will be discharged for disrupting the military. If you are not committed to perform with excellence as a United States soldier because you don’t believe in full equality, go home. If you are not honorable enough to fight without prejudice, go home. If you are not capable of keeping your oath to the Armed Forces to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to do the same, unless there’s a gay soldier in my unit, then go home.

Or, moreover, if you serve this country, is it acceptable to be a cafeteria American soldier? Can you choose some things from the Constitution to put on your plate, but not others? A buffet, perhaps. I’m not talking about citizens — we have a right to grieve, to protest, we have a right to this rally — but I’m talking about soldiers. Should the military be allowed to treat Constitutional rights like a cafeteria? In the military, is it acceptable to be a cafeteria American? What I mean to say is, should soldiers and the government be able to pick and choose what we are fighting for in the Constitution or who we are fighting for? I wasn’t aware of this ambiguity in our Constitution. I thought the Constitution was ultimate. I thought equality was non-negotiable. And, let’s say, if the government can pick and choose who they’re fighting for, as exemplified in laws like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” shouldn’t we as Americans be made aware of this imbalance? Shouldn’t it be made clear to the citizens of this country, before we go to war, shouldn’t I be made aware ahead of time that some of us are just not included in that fight? “We’re going to war for you and you and you and you, but not you, because you’re gay.” You can risk your life for this country, but in the end, you’re not fighting for yourself; you’re fighting for straight people. … You are not included. You are not included when we say “equal.” You are not even fully included when we say “freedom.”

I’m here today in this park, in Maine, to say that, if the Senate and the president are not going to repeal this “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, perhaps they should be more clear with us about who the military is fighting for, who our tax dollars are supporting and, ultimately, how much does the prime rib cost? Because I thought this was an “all you can eat” buffet. This equality stuff, I thought equality meant everyone. But apparently, for certain value meals, for certain civil rights, I have to pay extra, because I’m gay. I’m allowed to stand in a line next to other men and women, I’m allowed to get shot at and shoot a gun to protect myself and my nation, but when it’s time to order my meal, when it’s time to benefit from the freedoms of the Constitution that I protect and fight for, I have to pay extra. I shouldn’t have to pay extra. I should have the ability, the opportunity, the right to enjoy the same rights — the same piece of meat — that my fellow soldiers, fellow straight soldiers, already have included in their Meal of Rights. It’s prime rib, it’s the same size, it’s the same grade, the same cost, at wholesale cost, and it’s in the Constitution.

My name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. I am an American citizen, to the senate, to Americans, to Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins — both from Maine — and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Equality is the prime rib of America. Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation. And I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat that my country has to offer. Are you listening? Shouldn’t everyone deserve the right to wear the same meat dress that I did? Repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” or go home. Go home. Thank you.

Lt. Dan Choi gives Harry Reid his West Point ring & discharge papers


Lt. Dan Choi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Netroots Nation
Las Vegas, NV
July 24, 2010

The moderator: “This morning Dan Choi gave me this to give to you. That’s his West Point ring. He says, he says it doesn’t mean to him what it did mean to him anymore. And this is his discharge.”

Harry Reid: “I just want to say about the ring. My son, my youngest boy, played on three national championship teams at the University of Virginia–soccer champions–and he gave me one of those rings. And I love that ring, that was terrific, but i didn’t earn the ring; my son gave it to me. He [Choi] earned this ring. And I’m gonna give it back to him. I don’t need his ring to fulfill the promise that I made to him.”

Moderator: “When it’s signed, Senator. When it’s signed.”

Reid: “That’s good enough with me. When the bill is signed I’ll keep it safely and give it back to him.”

[applause]

Choi gets on stage.

Reid: “When we get it passed you’ll take it back, right?”

Choi: “I sure will, but I’m gonna hold you accountable.”

A Comic Guide to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell


Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide on Homosexual Conduct Policy
Distributed by the United States Army
2001
(scanned by Comics with Problems)

Click here to download a PDF of the entire comic.

Title: Dignity & Respect:
A Training Guide on Homosexual Conduct Policy.

Publication: [Washington, D.C.]: Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Dept. of the Army, Year: 2001 Description: 30 p. : col. ill. ; 17 cm. Language: English

OCLC: 52583606

Available libraries that have a copy in their holdings(2): Pritzger Military Library and Michigan State University.

On Equality


by Alexi Giannoulias
U.S. Senate nominee and Illinois State Treasurer
Campaign Rally
Jun 21, 2010
(source)

From David Mixner:

As we watch people in Washington attempt to find ways to dribble out our human rights without taking a tough stand on issues like marriage equality, Democrat Alexi Giannoulias who is running for United States Senate in Illinois shows how it should be done. Without equivocating or searching for new words to describe our struggle, he comes down squarely and unconditioinally for full equality.

This charismatic young Democrat represents the new generation of Americans running for office who refuse to abide by the old ways of caution. Want to know who should get your funds this year? Just click here and support this amazing man. Watch this video and you will become even more impatient with those who refuse to stand by our side in marriage equality

Poverty is a Queer Issue


by Gloria Nieto
June 29, 2010
(source)

Over the weekend, Pride weekend in many parts of the world, I visited with old friends.  What was completely astonishing to me was the state of poverty that we find ourselves in right now.

All of us are well over 50.  We are the only ones to lose our home at this point.  The other friends are barely holding on.  Of the four of us out the other night at the Egyptian museum, only one of us has a job.  The other three hobos, I mean homos, have all been gainfully employed all our adult lives.  One has owned and operated several businesses over time.  Her unemployment just ran out on Friday.  She is one of the 1.3 million who were dropped that day.

My unemployment ran out back in April.  No income since then so my spouse is trying to keep both of us afloat.

The other friend is on disability and her partner is her paid caregiver.  The Governator is about to drop that program so that poor disabled will continue to bear the burden of this Depression.  They live a half hour drive out of town and cannot afford to move in closer to town so they are facing down foreclosure also.

I have to give a shout out to fellow blogger Patricia Nell Warren  for also talking about the financial crisis many lgbt folks find themselves in, including herself.  We are losing our houses, our savings, our dignity in this disaster.

In all the latest rumblings about LGBT rights, I wonder how we get more of our own folks realizing the recession is a queer issue?  ENDA is a jobs bill, so is DADT.  But ultimately my life and ability to be a participating member is tied up in the Senate and their lack of understanding of our realities, straight and LGBT.

It was finally explained to me during my last visit to DC.  It is an obvious answer, really.  None of the legislature, Senate and House alike, ever see needy people every day.  There is always money in DC so since they don’t go outside of the comfort zone of the Hill and their homes, why would they see the other realities.

There is no urgency on the economy.  There is no urgency on anything.  When I heard the President tell the folks on the Gulf Coast that they were not going to be forgotten, I thought well what about the rest of us?  You have forgotten about us and left us.  We have no help and there is no help on the horizon.

Abandoned.

Let me ask this – how many unemployed people were invited to the White House cocktail party last week?  All the glowing reports of words from the President are irrelevant without action.  There is no action because we have been forgotten and left behind.  Again.

This continued depression has a strong effect on our community.  How many lgbt centers are struggling?  The AIDS prevention money was stripped from the California budget so who will be the next wave of infected gay men in California?  How many activists are sidelined because they have no resources and cannot devote time to planning or activism because we are crippled by poverty.  Getting turned down repeatedly for jobs doesn’t do a lot for a person’s self esteem, trust me.

There is a price to pay for this disaster.

Unfortunately, those who should be paying for it are summering in the Hamptons.  The rest of us are stuck with the bill, both financial and emotional.

So during this month of Pride, while we celebrate all our victories over the years, try to remember those on the sidelines, struggling to keep our heads above water.  Equality should mean an equal chance to contribute to our communities, live  a good life, and hold our heads high.

Mr. Fierce Advocate, this is your chance to make a difference for all of us.

Open Letter to President Obama and Every Member of Congress


by Lt. Dan Choi
May 12, 2009

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.

I am committed to applying the leadership lessons I learned at West Point. With 60 other LGBT West Point graduates, I helped form our organization, Knights Out, to fight for the repeal of this discriminatory law and educate cadets and soldiers after the repeal occurs. When I receive emails from deployed soldiers and veterans who feel isolated, alone, and even suicidal because the torment of rejection and discrimination, I remember my leadership training: soldiers cannot feel alone, especially in combat. Leaders must reach out. They can never diminish the fighting spirit of a soldier by tolerating discrimination and isolation. Leaders respect the honor of service. Respecting each soldier’s service is my personal promise.

The Department of the Army sent a letter discharging me on April 23rd. I will not lie to you; the letter is a slap in the face. It is a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

My subordinates know I’m gay. They don’t care. They are professional.

Further, they are respectable infantrymen who work as a team. Many told me that they respect me even more because I trusted them enough to let them know the truth. Trust is the foundation of unit cohesion.

After I publicly announced that I am gay, I reported for training and led rifle marksmanship. I ordered hundreds of soldiers to fire live rounds and qualify on their weapons. I qualified on my own weapon. I showered after training and slept in an open bay with 40 other infantrymen. I cannot understand the claim that I “negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard.” I refuse to accept this statement as true.

As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging. But I beg you today: Do not fire me. Do not fire me because my soldiers are more than a unit or a fighting force – we are a family and we support each other. We should not learn that honesty and courage leads to punishment and insult. Their professionalism should not be rewarded with losing their leader. I understand if you must fire me, but please do not discredit and insult my soldiers for their professionalism.

When I was commissioned I was told that I serve at the pleasure of the President. I hope I have not displeased anyone by my honesty. I love my job. I want to deploy and continue to serve with the unit I respect and admire. I want to continue to serve our country because of everything it stands for.

Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.

Very Respectfully,

Daniel W. Choi
1LT, IN
New York Army National Guard