Lt. Dan Choi and Cpt. James Pietrangelo were scheduled to be tried yesterday for handcuffing themselves to the White House fence twice this Spring. Everybody was ready for it. Prosecutor Christina Chang, defense attorneys Ann Wilcox and Mark Goldstone, Choi (in his dress blues, no less) and Pietrangelo, and several witnesses (including the arresting officers) were ready. Even the Secret Service was in the room.
Apparently, Prosecutor Christine Chang was unaware of the governmentâ€™s decision as she stated, â€œI was ready,â€ and wasnâ€™t able to explain the last-minute decision not to prosecute.
â€œToday, truth was the victor against a demeaning, discriminatory law known as â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tell,â€™â€ said Lt. Dan Choi. â€œWe wonâ€™t stop pressing for repeal and pressuring those standing in the way until the day comes when not one more gay or lesbian servicemember is fired. And, as of today, the President refuses to tell us when that day will actually come.â€
â€œIt is clear that the government was embarrassed and we were prepared to make them defend this antiquated and homophobic law. The government is afraid of having to defend this issue,â€ said Cpt. James Pietrangelo II. â€œThe subpoena was an embarrassment for them, â€˜Donâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€™ is an embarrassment for them and, after three months of discovery and preparation, the government dropped the case because they know itâ€™s an embarrassment.â€
â€œCivil disobedience won today,â€ said Robin McGehee, co-founder and co-director of GetEQUAL. â€œWeâ€™re thrilled today that Dan and Jimâ€™s actions have been validated and that non-violent civil disobedience has been proven again to be effective in combating prejudice. We are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Dan, Jim and other LGBT active-duty servicemembers who are taking action to end this discriminatory policy.â€
So what happened? President Obama has had plenty of embarrassments with LGBT issues lately, and perhaps someone decided this was one too many.
My guess is that the Administration is finally beginning to understand that the strategy of putting off civil rights issues until 2013 has backfired and that Democrats entering midterm elections have a huge credibility problem with the LGBT community.
Remember, DADT is still the law and prosecutions are actively being pursued. Lesbian and gay firings are still happening at a rate of around two firings a day.
Something tells me Choi and Pietrangelo (and the good folks at GetEqual) will keep on making a ruckus until we’re all allowed to serve without fear.