Friday, March 19, 2010

Liberty And Justice For All?

Lt. Dan Choi

I originally planned to post a note about a 'Technology Sabbath'. I am strongly considering participating. It would be interesting to see how I respond to a day away from so much technology. I might get more work done in the garden. I might connect to people on a real level as opposed to electronically. Ideally the trend spreads and is observed by many. I feel like participating in large positive group events/movements, sends out a very powerful positive intention and energy. I like being a part of that. I guess because it feels empowering.

But after reading the latest news about Lieutenant Dan Choi, we all felt we should write something about his situation.
Lt. Choi was discharged from the military one year ago for coming out as being gay after serving honorably under Don't Ask Don't Tell for ten years. Yesterday he handcuffed himself to the fence in front of The White House in peaceful protest. Today he's being held under arrest with Jim Pietrangelo and until recently, 5 others as well. A good place to get quick updates on developments in the case is the getEQUAL facebook page. Their latest post says:
GetEQUAL Breaking!! Offered $100 fine, Dan & Jim plead NOT GUILTY and demand a jury trial. We do not plead guilty for equality. Trial set for April. More to come.
This morning over coffee, all three of us called both our US Senators and submitted our comments to the White House contact page We would urge you to voice your concerns over the treatment of Lt. Choi as well.
This is how we feel. We're appalled that the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy exists to begin with. How degrading and insulting to expect an entire arm of the organization to pretend to be something else and hide their reality from their peers, denying them the full self expression and equality of choice afforded everyone else in this country! We're appalled that people are being treated this way. Men and women who've served us and protected our country and our freedom, are being ostracized, dismissed and worse. That makes us wonder what century we're in. And to see Lt. Choi arrested & mistreated because he staged a peaceful protest on the sidewalk just makes us shake our heads! Why is this even an issue?! Why does this man have to handcuff himself to the fence and get attention and be noticed? Our country has had one group or another fighting for equality since it's birth! And equality always wins! Make no mistake, equality will win in this case too. Those who oppose equal rights for LGBT people are on the wrong side of history and soon, time will catch up with them. Just as it did for those against the lowly colonists first, then those against the slaves gaining equality, and those against the rights of women... That's how we feel.
So why did Lt. Choi handcuff himself to the fence one year after his discharge? If I were guessing, I would guess his answer might be something like this: Because people can only affect change when they know a problem exists. Well hello everyone, Dan Choi is asking for your attention for just a moment. He would like to tell you this is a problem. He would like his equal rights now please. Just like we've been proclaiming since Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence! Are we really a nation still refusing to recognize that hypocrisy? These discriminatory policies may not have been instituted by us, but as a nation, these policies stand in our name and reflect on us as a group. Since I'm a part of that group, I'd like these policies changed! Don't Ask Don't Tell is a specific example with a clear answer: Repeal. But it's not the only issue of equality the LGBT community faces. Issues like California's Proposition 8 abound all over the nation and these are more examples of things that need to change!
We hope you'll write to the white house about repealing DADT, as well as about fair treatment for Lt. Choi. We also hope you'll take a moment to call your representatives. It's so easy. This morning we called and said we were constituents of the senator etc, we heard of the Lt Choi arrest and didn't think this was just, also we wanted to urge the Senator to work toward repealing DADT immediately etc. It's a very quick phone call to a sweet-voiced young lady taking messages. To get the number to call your Senators, click here. To find a number for your US House Representative click here, enter your zip+4 in a box near the top left and you will get a link to your Representative. Mine had his contact numbers and addresses listed at the bottom of his page - I called the Washington DC office number. And I did all of it while I sipped my coffee. I don't think that's too much to do to further the cause of equality in a country which claims that as one of it's founding principles.


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