SHOCK: Dan Choi Arrested After Chaining Himself to White House Fence to Protest DADT – Overtakes HRC Rally

So today’s Human Rights Campaign rally in D.C., happening right now after the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings wrapped, was supposed to be a feel good event with Kathy Griffin. Then Lt. Dan Choi bounded on to the stage after Griffin, told her that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is not a joke, and says he’s going to the White House to, uh, chain himself to the fence to protest the law that might get him kicked out of the military. Tweets reporter Kerry Eleveld: “This does not sound like it was part of the HRC script.” Maybe not but it was certainly planned: “According to this source, who is close to Lt. Choi, a number of people tried to talk him out of his plan. With the repeal underway and the study going full throttle, it is a delicate time in the repeal of DADT. This means that anything that could be seen as being problematic or aggrandizing or taking this issue less than seriously could bolster the position of those in opposition to the MREA and make passage that much more difficult.” UPDATE: Photos and video below.

Indeed, as Choi’s march to the White House proceeds (as we’re typing this), this does not appear to be part of HRC’s official plan. Choi “essentially asked Joe Solmonese to go with him,” tweets Eleveld. There are also fliers being handed out (meaning they were printed ahead of time) with instructions to follow Choi to the White House.

More from Americablog‘s Joe Sudbay: “Lieut. Dan choi heads to white house to fight for #dadt. Griffin and HRC’s Solmonese stay for photo ops. Welcome to gay dc.” And: “Dan Choi speaking in front of white house. No kathy griffin. She blew him off.”

More: Choi is with Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, who (unsuccessfully) tried taking his legal challenge of DADT to the Supreme Court. DC Agenda tweets: “Secret Service is pushing everyone away from the White House fence and to the street.”

Kathy Griffin is here to film an episode of My Life on the D-List; are her cameras really not catching this?

HAPPENING NOW: Choi has cuffed himself to fence. “Dan Choi still has both arms chained to the White House fence. He’s standing there stoically and silently. … Police are not attempting to disperse the crowd at this time. We believe about 20 Secret Service agents are now on scene.” (via) JOINING IN: “Captain Jim Pietrangelo has also chained himself against the white house fence” in front of crowd of 50, now down to 30. (via)

FIRST ARREST? “Robin McGehee of @GetEQUAL just arrested for “disorderly conduct” for helping Dan Choi cuff himself to the White House.” (via) Robin tweeted earlier: “Just told @JoeSolomonese to tell the President that the crazy ass mother from Fresno won’t leave.” See photos at right.

TWITTER BACKLASH BEGINS: Zach Oldham tweets: “memo to Lt Choi, et al: Obama doesn’t really care about you. move along & be patient–he may have use for you in 2012.”

HRC BACKLASH BEGINS: “Sick of hearing abt @LtDanChoi and #DADT. If anyone should be arrested over failure to repeal #DADT, it’s Joe Solmonese & #HRC.” (via)

PRAYER: “One female woman is kneeling in the crowd with hands raised, praying for the souls of gay people.” (via)

CROWDS CLEARING: “Police just warned that all must leave the sidewalk in front of White House or be arrested. Choi & Pietrangelo are only two remaining.” (via)

INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE: “Gibbs finally asked about Choi’s #DADT protest, says WH got no heads up & there were no plans for the President to meet with him.” (via)

CHANTING: Listen in:

REMOVED & ARRESTED: “Choi and Pietrangelo have been arrested.” (via)

Watch video of arrest:

PHOTOS: In front of the White House.

PRESS RELEASE: PR firm Sunshine & Sachs already blast press release:

Discharged U.S. Army Lieutenant Walked to the White House Demanding Full Equality and Gay Rights

Openly Gay Lt. Dan Choi Urged President Obama to Take Action Against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After participating in the Human Rights Campaign march on Freedom Plaza Thursday afternoon, former United States Army Lieutenant Dan Choi made a public statement and marched over to the White House to demand the Obama administration take a firm stance in repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Joined by former U.S. Captain Jim Pietrangelo, honorably discharged in 2004 under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Lt. Choi made a public call to action in front of the White House. Their actions are a result of a general unrest among the LGBT community after Congressman Barney Frank confirmed this week that the White House has been “ambiguous” about repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year.

The following statement was read by Lt. Choi outside Freedom Plaza before he set off to the White House:

“Hello. My name is Lt. Dan Choi. I am being discharged from the US Army because I am gay and dared to say it out loud.

Today, I am here on a mission with Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, and we are asking you all to join us. We’re calling you to action because we are at a turning point — a moment in time where talk is no longer enough, and action is required.

Equality is not going to happen by itself.

You have been told that the President has a plan. But Congressman Barney Frank confirmed to us this week that the President still is not fully committed to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year.

And if we don’t seize this moment it may not happen for a very long time.

Some may tell you that I am one of the lucky ones. I have been welcomed back by my unit with open arms. And it would be easy for me to stay quiet and hope that change will happen.

But what I was taught at West Point and learned in war is — hope is not a strategy. As officers, James and I both find it a dereliction of our moral duty to remain silent while thousands of our brothers and sister are not allowed to serve openly and honestly.

Capt. Pietrangelo was honorably discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2004 and I will be subject to the same shortly. As officers we are here today fighting for those in the ranks, and we need our Commander in Chief to do the same.

Our fight is not here at Freedom Plaza, it is at the White House. We are walking to the White House right now to send the President a message. So…take out your cell phones and your cameras. Document this moment. Join us as together — we make history.”

EARLIER: Photos from HRC rally.

[photos via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via, via]

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  • Robert

    Go Choi! 5th column organizations like HRC should take a back seat and allow real activism to take place, not rich white circle jerks for donation money.

  • Cam

    The thing I find interesting is that all the people from HRC were on here just a few months ago attacking everybody talking about the March on Washington saying that Marches and rallies did nothing….and now here they are planning a rally. Go Lt. Choi!

  • DR

    woo hoo! Go Dan Choi!

  • Tom

    Seems like they would get more press if they don’t do it on the eve of historic health care reform…

  • edgyguy1426

    This is the way it’s done.

  • That Bitch Téa Delgado

    Bravo to Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo! Civil disobedience is more classic, more demanding and more memorable than a gay-friendly comedienne making a speech. These men are heroes to me!

  • HRC Lackey

    “that Marches and rallies did nothing….and now here they are planning a rally”

    But ours is a celebrity rally for a TV show. Big difference.

  • Hyhybt

    Nice going, now they don’t *need* DADT to kick you out.

    Sorry, but I just don’t see any good coming of this.

  • Jaroslaw

    critical time in the DADT saga? The military has known for over 50 years Gays pose no problems and STILL they are studying. Studying what?

  • DR

    Choi and Pietrangelo are the real heroes today. What are we gonna be talking about tomorrow? Choi and Pietrangelo or the HRC and the famewhore?

  • Anne

    Well, this should certainly get some press. But can Choi get kicked out of the military for doing this?

    (Tweet from Kathy: It was my honor 2 share th podium w Lt Dan Choi today. I understand he’s been arrested in front of the White House. I dig that dude! Balls!)

  • DC boy

    I was out at the rally.. Kathy had some funny moments, but others were pretty dumb and tone deaf. I don’t understand why we needed to have her speak on DADT to begin with.. It just came off as a stunt. Then of course, I come to find out she actually was using this rally as footage for some show I won’t watch.

    Then she cracked some joke that basically denigrated the Middle East — I mean, I guess it’s ok, ’cause she’s kidding? Tone deaf, hello?

    Whatevs…when Choi got up to speak, he knew what to do. Looked right into the cameras, challenged the President directly and then said “we’re marching to the White House RIGHT NOW!” At which point HRC’s heads’ collectively exploded. GO CHOI!!

  • DR

    I don’t believe that Kathy Griffin has the gall to Tweet about sharing the stage with him. This is why we fail. We need to support Dan and Jim, not Kathy. These are OUR rights, dammit, and we need to fight for them!

  • Joey

    @HRC Lackey: You and your org suck ass, quite literally. Take your circle-jerks, your lame bumper stickers, your tea parties, black-tie galas and “Celebrity rallys for a TV show” and shove them straight up your self indulgant, politician-greased asses!
    I agree with CAM, where the fuck were you for the March on Equality on 10/11/09? You’re about 5 months too late, and it’s late enough to have hopefully caused you some damage.
    HRC is as useful to the LGBT community as Vicks Vapor Rub is at curing herpes my friend. You’re obsolete.
    But hey, how’s that begging for money working for ya? I love clicking “delete” on those damn emails and tossing your waste of lumber into the fireplace. I bet your all struggling to find a way to pay Joey-baby’s high-price salary, huh? Here’s a hint: Can the Mother Fucker and put someone with real balls (preferrably of Brass) in his seat to do the work he should have been doing all these years.
    You suck.

  • Philly Jewboy

    I would like to know why the tuchas bandits need to brand themselves. If you are a queer, just be a queer and leave the rest of us alone. Choi and the rest of them need to find a hobby.

  • chango

    I guess from all the “go Choi” chants in this thread that I’m supposed to think his behavior was brave or something?

    Explain to me how this makes him a hero, because, honestly, my first reaction was “what a drama queen.”

  • REBELComx

    @Philly Jewboy: Says the guy who needs to label himself as a racial/religious minority for the purpose of a single blog post.

  • Timothy

    PHilly Jewboy,

    You want the queers to “leave you alone”… yet here you are on a gay website spouting your heterosexuality. No one asked you here. No one wanted to know about what you do in the privacy of your bedroom.

    But here you are.

    Why, I wonder?

    Why can’t you just go be a het and leave the rest of us alone. You need a hobby.

  • DR


    Maybe because instead of talking, like Kathy and the HRC, he’s willing to make a stand. Funny how I don’t see Kathy or Joe willing to get their hands dirty like this…

  • R. Zeke Fread

    Lt. Dan Choi & Robin McGehee Are Willing To Be Arrested To Have Their Voices Heard. I Commend Them For Taking Action, Even If Being Arrested Is The Cost, Been There & Done That and Will Do It Again In A Heartbeat. Have We Not Learned That, Silence=Death and No Equality. No More Silence or PLZ Can We Have Our Equal Rights, The Time To Be Active In The GLBT Civil Rights Movement Is Now. If We Don’t Speak Up, Who Will. Certainly Not Our Legislators, Promises Were Made And We Must Demand They Be Kept. Thanks Dan and Robin, For Fighting The Good Fight!

  • Cam

    No. 16 · Philly Jewboy
    I would like to know why the tuchas bandits need to brand themselves. If you are a queer, just be a queer and leave the rest of us alone. Choi and the rest of them need to find a hobby.

    Thats funny, you don’t want us to “Brand” ourselves, you your screename tells us where you are from and what your religeon is. Did you actually read your post before you hit the “Submit” button?

  • Cam

    No. 7 · HRC Lackey
    “that Marches and rallies did nothing….and now here they are planning a rally”

    But ours is a celebrity rally for a TV show. Big difference.

    LOL!!!!!!! Brilliant, you nailed their mindset!

  • mdthom

    Do not beleive for one moment Kathy was doing this for us. It was for her TV Show. She doesn’t do anything unless she gets publicity.

  • Michael @

    How dare the lezgetphony er lezgetreal site quote someone willing to attack Dan’s courageous act but too cowardly to identify themselves in their LUDICROUS assertions of how such nonviolent civil disobedience could be bad!!! Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and black gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin are spinning in their graves as transparent members of the Obama Borg continue to defend the President’s BETRAYING his promise to FIGHT to repeal DADT.


    Apparently out of the irrational fear that ACTUALLY fighting for repeal will cost Dems votes, the gay community’s self-described “fierce advocate” has simply blown air kisses at repeal, refused to use his legal powers to freeze discharges, and sent his SECDEF et al. to Congress to insist that DADT must NOT be repealed until after they’ve done their “study.”

    And, OOOOOPS, we’re so sorry but that study will not be done until after Nov. 2nd when the buzzer will sound, ending this game the Pentagon dinosaurs are playing about suddenly “personally” “supporting” repeal and the chances of ACTUALLY repealing the ban for YEARS!

    Yesterday, ABC evening news wasted five minutes showing basketball-obsessed Obama making his picks for the NCAA tourney, reinforcing the obviousness of his applying bball strategy to avoiding DADT repeal. It’s called: “running out the clock.” BRAVO DAN!!!

  • delisnuff

    Kathy is an American citizen exercising her rights unlike some of you cads who like to claw your idols as soon as they do something you’re not. Pff.

    Thank you to all that was there.

  • Brian NYC

    Useless grandstanding.

    Please explain how this publicity stunt changes any minds/votes about DADT. It just make Choi and the rest of us (by extension) look like fools.

  • Cam

    No. 27 · Brian NYC
    Useless grandstanding.

    Please explain how this publicity stunt changes any minds/votes about DADT. It just make Choi and the rest of us (by extension) look like fools.

    Yeah, you’re right, but HRC, condemming a gay rallie in summer, saying rallies don’t do any good, and then planning a rally today because it is going to be on TV doesn’t make them look like fools? Their facination with holding Gala’s where they trot out whatever Celeb is appearing there that event so all their employees can get their photos taken with them was a bad enough waste of time and money, but to condem an action only to make the same action a few months later when it is requested by a TV star is just the height of hypocricy. Nice to know they’re at least consistent though. Glad you bitches weren’t around to tell suferagetts chaining themselves to the fences was useless grandstanding in their fight for women’s votes. But then again, the highly paid employees of HRC are quite comfortable in their golden cages.

  • Michael @

    Do Obambots STILL have no shame, Brian?

    Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bayard Rustin, women fighting for the right to vote, Asians, Latinos, Jews, Muslims, the physcially challenged…everyone who’s ever gone against the status quo to protest discrimination against themselves and others have been accused of “grandstanding.”

    The only one who’s made you look like a fool is yourself.

  • chango

    Wow. Just wow.

    Comparing Lt. Choi to Rosa Parks and MLK is absurd.

  • Cam

    No. 30 · chango
    Wow. Just wow.

    Comparing Lt. Choi to Rosa Parks and MLK is absurd.

    He was making the comparison that people who stand up for their rights are often accused of grandstanding. However, rosa Parks didn’t want to get up to give up her seat in a time when blacks did not have full civil rights in the U.S., something that you could have gotten arrested for there. Choi is handcuffing himself to the whitehouse, something that he just got arrested for in a time when gays don’t have full civil rights in the U.S. Both people were accused of grandstanding and courting fame. So instead of pretending shock at the comparison, why not explain how you feel they are hugely different?

  • terrwill

    @chango: I am pretty sure that Rosa Parks would have chained herself to that fence with Lt. Dan Choi……………………

  • Kieran

    Why Dan Choi would even want to go to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight to protect and defend the ungrateful and bigoted asses of so many American homophobes is beyond me. Ship all these homophobic ingrates who watch the war on TV in their underwear and who oppose repealing DADT over to the Middle East and let them fight these idiotic Neo-Con Wars. Meanwhile, if America is looking for a hero……look no further than Dan Choi.

  • Robert

    Why not compare Dan Choi with Rosa Parks? The only reason there would be an objection is because of Parks’ legacy. We aren’t comparing legacies we are comparing actions and yes this action warrants a comparison.

  • Kieran

    Nothing says “America” like the sight of armed Storm Troopers standing guard around the White House (aka The People’s House)

  • jeffree

    Choi knew he would get arrested. that shouldnt be shocking. If it works to help end DADT he’ll be a hero, if it doesnt, well then all the “told u so” people will blame him. Not shocking if either happens

    The antigays will say this eppisode shows we are antipatriotic, & that shouldnt be a shock either

    the HRC people will clap loud if Chois’ protests/ arrest turns out to help. if it doesnt they then will say to “just leave activism to proffessionals” !!

    whether he is called a **hero** depends on the results. no results equals getting said hes “a distraction” but bad results means being called “traitor”

    plz remember i said that !! :-D

    Would someone else pls ask Brian nyc what he would have done differently today? i may need help understanding it because he writes full of long vaugue meaninglless words. thanks!

  • The Milkman

    Choi got off his ass and did something. So did Kathy.

    Good for them, and good for us.

  • rf

    “Comparing Lt. Choi to Rosa Parks and MLK is absurd.”

    Listen pinhead, not to take anything away from Rosa Parks, but Claudette Colvin was the woman who refused to go to the back of the bus and was arrested. She was poor, dark skinned, and ended up pregnant (some say raped) and the MLK group including Rosa Parks decided she wouldn’t make a good defendant to appeal to whites in the civil rights movement. So they staged the Rosa Parks deal because she had a more “acceptable look”.

    Civil rights struggles are not perfect, but action is often what it takes. Had twitter been around when Claudette was on that bus, you might be saying Rosa who? Dan Choi is a hero in my book and he can absolutely be compared to Rosa Parks and anyone else that takes a stand for equal rights.

  • leanleft

    Maybe we need both HRC and Choi. Work on the inside / work on the outside. Different strategies all chipping away for the same result.

  • alan brickman

    Kathy and Cher only care about the gay dollars…the rights..not so much….

  • alan brickman

    why didn’t Kathy chain herself too? just wondering….

  • Tylertime

    Choi isn’t Rosa Parks or MLK. His life outside the white house was not in jeopardy.

  • Michael @

    @ Tylertime:

    You think gay activists don’t face danger, too? Two words: Harvey Milk. And the only reason the first gay servicemember to fight the ban, Leonard Matlovich, wasn’t killed was that the bullets shot at his house in 1975 didn’t go through the walls.

    That it would be rare to find an LGBT person in the US today facing the same level of continuing danger that MLK Jr., experienced even before he was assassinated is NOT the point.

    Really, the gross ignorance about the legitimate uses of analogy [“resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike”] is pathetic.

  • Prof. Donald Gaudard

    The stupidity of the anti-gay faggots who are denigrating (sorry for the use of such a big word for you anti-gays) Dan Choi never fails to amaze me. Talk about being ignorant of history or gay history!! It’s mind boggling.

  • jeffree

    Dan Choi could of easily just stayed silent & did nothing—his status as a hero or nonhero will get decided if he gets results or no, or if he inspires other people to do similar actions. we already know hes a hero in war & what he did in the capital was brave. he didnt have supports from HrC or other organztions but he risked his name reputation & future on making some difference. i wish i was brave like him. if i make a statement nobody will notice or care, but people may realize heres Dan a guy who wants to serve the UsA and hes getting kicked out because hes gay. its wrong just w:r:o:n:g 2 not let him be in the military if he wants to. he still is a fighter either way, looking out for other people not just him self!!

    /is there rascism here maybe or just the homophobia?????/

  • bobo

    ignore the bitter queens. they are just passively sitting around, supporting the status quo, rotting from the inside out. they are a threat to no one but themselves. trust me, there’s nothing going on there, let them talk shit til they are blue in the face. while i have my issues with the military, i do think what Choi et. al. did was very cool, and hopefully it will inspire other queers to take action and get in people’s faces. this is a good thing.

  • Mike

    What right would you fight for? What injustice would you have to endure to force you to risk being arrested?

  • jeffree

    ok, what can a average gay guy or lesbian do to create change in DADT, ENDA, DOMA?

    i’m trying 2 go 2 school parttime & work fulltime & yes these issues R important. i want 2 support other lgb people. so far i read a list of things not to try. so what do i try???


  • Philly Jewboy

    REBELComx and Timothy, I was linked to this site by the news story on Google News. Just wanted to say, I have nothing against you tuchas bandits except your huge contribution to the spread of aids in our country.

  • J

    @Philly Jewboy: FUCK YOU! “Tuchas Bandits”…? Really? You stupid ficking kyke. It’s “straight” men who fuck anything with a pulse, without protection, that contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS in this country, and you’re probably a big part of that you pathetic closet case pig. Good lord do I wish you lived in 1940’s Nazi-Germany, we wouldn’t be stuck reading your lame-shit posts here. Go fuck a fire-hydrant you bigot asshole. I wish I knew who you were because I’d kick your teeth right down your fucking loose throat and strap you right into a waiting gas chamber. I don’t ever wish this one ANYONE, but you sir DESERVE to get AIDS, and I hope you do!

  • Philly Jewboy

    @J: You have my sympathy, angry and self hating, I hope you will be OK.

  • Rhen

    I applaud those willing to do something…anything proactive to bring about some long overdue adjustments to the notion of equal human rights. I am a TS and a lesbian, I live in a small city in Canada, and have had my share of social misfortunes. I have had death threats uttered to me at my old job (to which I promptly encouraged my coworker to make sure he does it for real the next time he said something like that or he’d be the first person to have their head kicked off their body by a transexual…and I’d do it too!)
    I have lived here most of my life and know a helluva lot of people (mostly straight). When I came out I was ready to lose it all, as I’m sure most of us are. It turned out that I gained far more than I lost. Not only did I keep my friends and family, but by discussing things openly with them and standing my ground I managed to inadvertantly enlighten them. There are hundreds of people who were once ignorant or indifferent to lgbt issues who now have my back in that arena! This isn’t me patting myself on the back, the road isn’t clear just yet. I am passive in comparison to the efforts some have and will make.
    I guess the point I’m trying to lead up to is that while demonstrations, rallies and bold tactics do contribute to bringing issues to the table, the only people who really get amped are the supporters already gathered there. The publicity will come and go with the flipping of the channels, barely remembered as anything more as “grandstanding” by viewers who are unaffected by the inequalities.
    In a way, it’s similar to how I see glbt clubs. It’s nice there is a place reserved for us to congregate and feel safe, but it has a flipside. We still find ourselves segregated from the rest of the nightlife, in a bigger closet with dance music and overpriced drinks. Rallies and gay clubs are great to promote community amongst ourselves, but it’s beyond these safe havens that the real work needs to be done.
    This means if you’re in the closet, take a risk and be honest with the people in your life and come out. If you are already out, then examine how exclusively lgbt your social circle is. If most of the people you associate with are lgbt, there’s nobody around to challenge your opinion. It’s risky no doubt, but confront your enemies. You may not succeed, but take a chance to make them into allies.
    Politicians only make decisions that will gain them votes, money or power. Our equality is just another issue to be played in some angle by politicians too busy pandering to larger voting pools. I think it’s gonna take some serious grassroots legwork by all of us in the form of education. We may have to kick off a few heads in the process, but I believe this is where our true power lies. Nobody can stop us from changing peoples minds one at a time. If we are out of the closet, we can make allies out of those who were once indifferent.

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