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“Not Guilty, Not Ashamed, and Not Finished”

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2010
Capt. Jim Pietrangelo and Lt. Daniel Choi following their court appearance and release. (Metro Weekly)

Capt. Jim Pietrangelo and Lt. Daniel Choi following their court appearance and release. (Metro Weekly)

That’s the plea that Lt. Daniel Choi entered at his arraignment in DC Superior Court this afternoon, according to tweets from a reporter at Metro Weekly. Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo were arrested yesterday and charged with “failure to obey a lawful order” after chaining themselves to the White House fence in protest over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  Pietrangelo also pleaded not guilty. Both were reportedly brought into the court room in handcuffs and chains.  Trial is set for April 26.

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Richard W. Fitch
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

***YES***

John
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

I support them in seeking a repeal of DADT now, not sometime “later”, but I am disturbed by 2 active-duty military officers in full uniform pulling such a public stunt as this. Officially at least the military is supposed to be non-partisan and not use the uniform for politics. Does it happen? Of course. It’s also very very risky.

Both men have sacrificed their careers even if DADT is repealed. Higher-ups will make sure of that because one thing the military despises is an officer for any reason making the military look bad. I trust they both know that and were willing to make the sacrifice.

All in all I question how effective this is going to be. Our main argument is that the arguments for DADT are invalid, especially concerning “unit cohesion”. We want gay servicemembers to be held to the same standards as straight ones. Well, one of those standards is don’t use the uniform for politics or so blatantly for personal gain. Even if its not always enforced, loopholes are found that one could drive a Mack truck through at times, etc., that one is still very high. This could easily backfire and engender not necessarily more support for DADT, but let’s say less-enthusiastic support for repeal. Time will tell I suppose and I do hope I’m wrong.

Edwin
March 19th, 2010 | LINK

DADT should never have been put in effect in the first place. Just another law that was railroaded in by all the homophobs of Clinton’s service in the White House.

MJC
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Bravo, Lt. Choi. Bravo. And I am straight.

John
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

No it shouldn’t have, Edwin. It was a stupid law and we’ve lost 17 years because of it with thousands of people needlessly effected by it. Yet the sight of two active-duty military officers in full uniform pulling a stunt like this at the official residence of the CiC? That’s not right. What else can military officers do to protest the CiC and we just excuse it? What about those sympathetic to the TEA Party movement? We have civilian control for a reason.

I support the cause but find this stunt to be more than a little disturbing.

Richard Rush
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

When oppressed minorities limit themselves to playing by all the rules established by their oppressors they shouldn’t be surprised when they get more oppression. Can anyone name an oppressed minority that has received equal rights and status by limiting themselves to asking politely? There may be some, but I just can’t think of any right now.

Lt. Daniel Choi is a hero, in my opinion.

Ben in Oakland
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Dan Choi comment:

There was no freer moment than being in that prison. It was freeing for me, and I thought of all of the other people that were still trapped – that were still handcuffed and fettered in their hearts. And we might have been caged up physically, but the message was very clear to all of the people who think that equality can be purchased with a donation, or with a cocktail party, or with tokens, that are serving in a public role. We are worth more than tokens. We have absolute value. And when the person who is oppressed by his own country wants to find out how to get that dignity back – being chained up and being arrested – that’s how you get your dignity conferred back upon you. And so I think that by actions, my call is to every leader – not just talking gay leaders – I’m talking any leader who believes in America, and the promises of America can be manifest. We’re gonna do it again. And we’re going to keep doing it until the promises are manifest. And we will not stop. This is a very clear message to President Obama and any other leader who supposes to talk for the American promise and the American people. We will not go away.”

The man is a hero.

Scott P.
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Could someone please clarify something for me? I thought both these gentlemen were expelled by the military. Or have they been reinstated?

Timothy Kincaid
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Scott P.,

Choi is still in processing.

John
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Richard: And where do you wish to draw the line? Start allowing servicemembers to pull stunts like this whenever they feel its necessary and what will the results be? If servicemembers disagree with public policy and feel strongly enough about it that they cannot refrain from speaking out publically, they need to resign or seek discharge before doing so. It is not their place to be questioning public policy while in uniform, let alone publically protesting it at the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief! That sets a VERY dangerous precedent and runs the risk of changing the military into something none of us would like.

Look, I don’t know Choi & Pietrangelo personally. I know a couple of fellas I respect that seem to think well of Choi (not sure if they know Pietrangelo), which puts him up a notch to me without having even met the man. Choi has been very impressive in interviews, speeches and online. Yet this stunt I cannot agree with. If he had resigned his commission first and then did this, I’d have no problem with it, but not while still in the service. That was wrong.

Ben Mathis
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

So John, how do you feel about the literal brigade of right wing conservative generals that comment on policies, court cases, etc, while in uniform. how about just this week General Jack Sheehan’s comment about the dutch having gay servicemembers? Seems it’s only when grunts want to say something that it’s not alright, and even then only when it’s not a republican talking point. Soldiers are involved in politics all day long and no one says a word till it’s about gay rights.

John
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

Sheehan is an ass but is retired so can freely speak his mind, unpleasant as it is in this case. There is a big difference between an active duty servicemember being asked their personal opinion on a subject, especially by Congress, and taking an active role in opposing public policy. Soldiers are free to participate in politics privately, they are NOT free to do so publically especially against established policy. I don’t give a damn what the subject matter is because that’s irrelevant. Tell me, would you find it acceptable if that “birther” officer (name escapes me) who filed suit against the president (and rightly lost) because he didn’t recognize Obama as the valid CiC chaining himself to the White House? Where exactly do you draw the line with these stunts by active duty personnel? How exactly do you see this helping repeal of DADT?

johnathan
March 20th, 2010 | LINK

John,

Let me first process this by saying I don’t know the first thing about the military — its proceedures nor its rankings, et cetera. Having said that, and with the understanding Sheehan is retired, why did he not tesitify in a simple suit and tie? He appeared in a military suit with all of his pins attached. Does this not also present a representation of the military uniform, in some form or another? In otherwords — retired or not — does Sheehan, when in said appearance, not also speak for the Military Apparatus? Really, when it comes down to it, how is his apperance in that “get up” any different than Choi’s, save for the fact that he is supposedly “retired?” Because, as far as I am concered, when I see “retired” Generals appering like that, speaking on behalf of current military protocol, they are no longer retired.

Just MY opinion. Take it at that value and level.

John
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

I only read about Sheehan’s remarks, I didn’t see them on video or a picture of his testimony. If he made his remarks while in uniform that makes them even more despicable. Retired personnel are allowed to wear the uniform in certain circumstances, testimony before Congress would be one of them. Yet as asinine as his comments were he was asked to testify and give his opinion on DADT, which is not the same thing as publically protesting public policy by chaining oneself in full uniform to the official residence of the CiC. I just heard elsewhere that Pietrangelo was actually out of the service at the time which if that’s the case while his participation in this stunt is controversial it’s far more acceptable than Choi’s.

johnathan
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Let me rephrase my comments — I didn’t see them either, but assumed from the photograph in this article. Just after posting, I thought, “Maybe this picture is just a stock photo?” So, I don’t know whether he appeared in uniform or not. Does anyone on this board know?

Nevertheless, to Choi and Pietrangelo, I give my full support.

Richard W. Fitch
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Yes, this is NOT just a stock photo. They were uniformed as you see them. btw, this is the same courthouse that a few days earlier welcomed applicants for Marriage Equality to get their licenses. About 150 same-sex partners applied.

johnathan
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Richard, no, no…I don’t mean Choi and Pietrangelo…I mean Sheehan. Was that just a stock photo of Sheehan? Was Sheehan in uniform when HE testified? Does anyone know about that? I have no doubt about Choi and Pietrangelo appearing in uniform — and I fully applaud that necessary and courageous act.

Ben in Oakland
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Personally, I am wondering if sheehan wasu nder oath when he testified, and given the Dutch government’s response, whether he can be prosecuted for lying under oath.

Richard Rush
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Sheehan was NOT wearing a uniform during the senate testimony, although I don’t really care one way or the other.
Here is the video.

johnathan
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Richard, thank you for letting me know. And you’re right. I, too, care less. He is an a$$h*le in, or out, of uniform.

Timothy Kincaid
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

A question about Choi and Pietrangelo,

these look to me just to be camouflage. Since this sort of attire can be purchased at all kinds of places and does not appear to have any insignia, is this actually a “uniform”?

In other words, if Choi wanted to appear in uniform, why wouldn’t he use his dress blues (or whatever he has) rather than what you’d wear to go play paintball?

Perhaps one of our readers who have served can answer.

Richard W. Fitch
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy: The pics that I have found of Choi at the HRC rally show him in camo with his name and various military insignia. The first pics at the fence no longer show them. I don’t know at what point this change actually took place.

Richard W. Fitch
March 21st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy – just got another pic of Choi just before the cuffs went on and he still had his patches, can’t see Jim. A comment elsewhere indicated that they went into the courthouse with and were taken before release.

John
March 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Ben: It’s technically possible since in limited circumstances even retired personnel are subject to the UCMJ since they draw a pension. Yet prosecution in this case would be extremely difficult.

RR: Well that’s better but Sheehan still made an ass of himself regardless.

Timothy: Both Choi & Pietrangelo were wearing official US Army uniforms with military insignia at the time they pulled this stunt. Specifically, there were wearing ACUs.

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