Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Charges Dropped Against Gay Veteran Protesters, Dan Choi and James Pietrangelo

"Prosecutors have dropped all charges against an openly gay Iraq War veteran who twice chained himself to a White House fence to protest the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Lt. Dan Choi (pictured) and James Pietrangelo, a gay army captain honorably discharged for disclosing his sexual orientation, were in court Wednesday on charges of failure to obey police orders during the March and April protests. All charges were dropped against them," reports Associated Press. "Choi and his attorney had subpoenaed President Barack Obama to appear, but an attorney for the prosecution said the subpoena wasn't served. Prosecutor Christine Chang declined to comment on why the government dropped the case. Choi said he believes Obama administration officials didn't want to draw attention to the policy."


The Washington Blade reports:
Mark Goldstone, a local attorney representing Choi and Pietrangelo in court, said he was “shocked” the U.S. Attorney’s office decided to dismiss the charges. Goldstone said he suspected someone from the White House called the U.S. Attorney’s office Wednesday to cancel the trial for “purely political reasons.”

“I think they’re embarassed about defending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which is an abomination,” Goldstone said.

Following the trial, Choi said his efforts to draw attention to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were not “just for a sound bite” or “to get famous.” Had the trial proceeded, Choi said he would have talked about how “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” affects LGBT service members and how “people are dying because they kill themselves” under the current law.

At several points during his coming out process, Choi said he wanted to “put a bullet” into his West Point pistol and shoot himself. “You know all of the consequences of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Choi said. “You’re not just getting fired from your job, it’s not just a national security issue, and it’s not just a matter of taxpayer money. It’s really about the enforced shame that it causes.” READ MORE