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May 8th, 2009
09:51 AM ET

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Continues Under Obama

President Obama pledged during his presidential campaign to end the military’s ban on gays serving openly, otherwise known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The president has been in office for over a hundred days and the armed forces continue to fire gays and lesbians who violate the military’s policy on serving openly as a homosexual.

Lt. Dan Choi of the New York National Guard is an Iraq War veteran and a West Point graduate. He also happens to speak fluent Arabic. Choi received a letter of discharge from the Army for “homosexual conduct.” His firing comes after he came out in March along with 37 other West Point graduates in a group called Knights Out.

Lt. Choi joined Carol Costello on CNN’s “American Morning” Friday. He acknowledges he made the choice to publicly admit his sexuality.

“I publicly admitted who I was. I refused to lie and to hide my identity. And because of that, they said, it doesn't matter that you graduated from West Point. It doesn't matter that you're fluent in Arabic. It doesn't matter that you went to Iraq and that you want to deploy again. Pack your stuff and go home. You're fired.”

The Department of the Army's discharge letter to Choi states, "This is to inform you that sufficient basis exists to initiate action for withdrawal of Federal Recognition in the Army National Guard for moral or professional dereliction... You admitted publicly that you are a homosexual which constitutes homosexual conduct... Your actions negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard."

Choi says the letter was a “big slap in the face.”

“I raised my right hand and said I want to serve. My commander in chief is going to send 21,000 troops overseas. I want to be one of those… Basically, by me saying I am gay, they're saying that that ruined the good order and discipline of the entire New York Army National Guard, which is very ridiculous. From what I've seen, my unit has been very professional. I'm very proud of my unit. They respect all soldiers for what they can do as members of their team.”

The White House has not yet commented on Choi's case, but their website’s statement on the policy currently reads: “He [President Obama] supports repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security.”

This is a change from what the website previously stated in April, which was ”President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.”

Since the passage of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in 1993, more than 12,500 men and women have been discharged from the military under the law.

Filed under: Military
soundoff (550 Responses)
  1. Army LTC

    As a current military (Army) officer, who has had gays and lesbians in his command, I can safely say there is no reason whatsoever to maintain DADT. Sexual misconduct, whether gay or straight, warrants disciplinary action to maintain the good order and discipline of a unit. But, the mere sexual preference of a soldier is not in itself sexual misconduct, in my view, is irrelevant and I ignor it if it becomes known. My soldiers are evaluated on their professionalism. It is shameful that gay and lesbian soldiers must hide and conceal the fact of their sexual preference - it creates a necessity to live a lie and can make one susceptible to being compromised. It is not the gay or lesbian soldier that is detrimental to the good order and discipline of the armed forces, it is DADT. The policy should be discharged; not the good Americans that defend this Nation from its enemies and who happen to have an alternative sexual preference to that which we consider "normal".

    May 8, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Army Dad

    Send him home.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  3. Wes

    Choi deserves nothing, not even his rank. He violated a code he knew was in place for his own personal gain.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  4. hello_shannon

    my heart goes out to this man. i am ashamed that my country treats people this way still! he is an asset to our nation and to our military. So the army would rather have people like the piece of dirt (stronger words can not be posted) Steven Green who was just convicted of raping and murdering a 14 year old Iraqi civilian? That doesn't sound right to me but the military is backwards and has proven time and time again to be a blemish on the US's reputation.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  5. Gabe

    the longer the administration puts off repealing Dont Ask Dont Tell, the longer our country will be plagued with this shameful and biggoted policy.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  6. Stuart L. Riley

    One more thing...

    Let me see if I have this right....

    The homophobes in the military train you all to not be afraid of the enemy, charge them with guns blazing, against bullets, grenades, tanks and bombs....

    But, let a GAY serve in your group...

    NOW you are afraid??????

    Oh gosh! Now, Al-Queda knows how to stop us!

    Just send gays after our troops! They'll all run away!

    May 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  7. Alex Badme, Albuquerque, NM

    BO is afraid. This is his Sec States and her hubby's dumb policy. The Dems have no guts. They LIE LIE LIE

    May 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  8. Rob

    It is a shame that, here in the 21st century, that the military caters to homophobes, just like they catered to racists prior to the Korean War that said blacks couldn't be soldiers. What a crock! Obama should sign an executive order allowing ALL citizens to serve irregardless of race, orientation, politics, etc. If the homophobes in the military don't like it, then give them the boot. After all, they are creating bad morale in the their units.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  9. Lori

    Oh my goodness!! If you think this is rediculous, how about the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) states that anything other than missionary style sex, between 2 consenting adults, in the confines of a punishable, depending on the charge, by up 20 years in jail. And you think that one is going to win the battle of homosexuals being allowed in the military. It's going to have to start with changing that outdated code of law that sends people to jail everyday for what that same judge is doing when he gets home at night....well, if he's lucky. 😉 take care

    May 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  10. eric

    you all need to understand that the Don't ask don't tell policy gave Clinton an out. he and Obama has no control over the LAW which states Homosexuals will not serve. THE LAW. not policy. Clinton did the closest he could come to stopping the law by Ordering us not to ask about their choice. Obama can change the policy all he wants but Congress has to change the law and he knows this and right now he has bigger problems. try educating yourselves about a subject.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  11. jean

    What a sad story. I do not believe in this policy at all, nor should it be in place. However, when this young man signed up for the Military, he was made aware of their policy of , "Don't ask, Don't tell". Cudos to him for being true to himself (as he should) but he knew what the consequences would be. The military is very strict on their rules and regulations. So unfortunately, this young man knew what he was getting himself into by openly admitting that he is gay. Sad story, but he knew what was going to happen when he broke the news to the military.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  12. SFC D

    Funny how he "comes out" as being gay after he graduates from West Point. Will he have to pay for his schooling since he was admitted under false pretenses? I doubt it. Its easy to "claim" to want to deploy when he know's he wont have to again. I say good riddance.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  13. Brad

    Bottom line up front. Male soldiers do NOT want to be in closed living spaces with open homosexuals. Yes that sounds like something only a bigot would say, but should a straight male be forced to share the same shower with a homosexual? If you say that is absurd and should not make a difference then I ask, should straight males be allowed to share the same shower with a female soldier? What’s the difference? A guy (straight or gay) naked and alone with the person of the sex he is attracted to can make the other person feel uncomfortable.

    Is it wrong to discriminate? Yes. However think about our soldiers and the importance of what they do. The work of a soldier is inherently dangerous. They don’t need additional stressors on them.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  14. Edward

    While I feel gays should be treated as equals in every part of American life, including serving in the military, and the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy is unfair and discriminatory, I do have to wonder about Lt. Choi's coming "out" at this point in time, especially on a political talk show!

    We have to follow the rules we agree to when we make a contract. Military service IS a job with a contract (there is no draft anymore) so it is a matter of choice.

    "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is hardly a secret agenda. Lt. Choi knew the rules when he joined the military. If he knew the rules when he joined and knew he was gay when he joined and agreed to follow the rules, then by his own integrity, he should not have said anything.

    I am curious about his "coming out" at this time, and publicly so. Does anyone else wonder about that? I think there is more to this story than we are being told.

    Considering the logic of the situation, I have to side with the military on this one. Lt. Choi signed a contract and he knew the terms. He basically defaulted on part of the contract. The military did what they said they would do. However, their letter could have been more objective and simply said "You are released because you violated the terms of the contract " or something to that effect.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  15. mike

    Paul give me a served 19 years and never ran into a gay soldier??? I served one more year than you and knew at least 10 gay soldiers. All great soldiers and loyal amercans, and not the least interested in checking you out. Your ego is way to inflammed. You are probably ugly as sin anyway. So drop the ignorance act, it's is unbecoming of a serviceman.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Dave

    Okay President Obama, TIME TO STEP UP...what are you going to do? What you promised, or were those just campaign promises like so many of your other statements. Proof is in the pudding...

    May 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  17. Matt

    He knew the policy and still decided to stand up in the public view and break the regulation. He got what he deserved. Now I'm supposed to feel sorry for him and that he was treated unfairly....I don't think so.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  18. Mark

    The army is NOT the place to pilot social reform and fight the battle against bigotry. Do that in your cubicle while you should be working.

    Don't ask don't tell seems like a fair solution. Keep your mouth shut, and you get what you want. If you can't do that, then maybe you you don't want it bad enough. And please, don't compare yourself to African American soldiers from the past. They did not have this option and depending on how far back you go with this, they did not enlist. If they did enlist, it was to escape slavery.

    So, rethink your rediculous comparison, step down from the soapbox, resist the urge to share your lovelife with everyone in earshot and you will be just fine.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  19. JVR

    1. The US military has standards for good order and discipline.
    2. DADT was signed by someone who did not understand that.
    3. DADT is a lie that is incompatible with military service.
    4. DADT needs to die, and, we go back to the original standard.
    Choi lied to get a US military education. He maintained that lie to get training and draw a salary. If he REALLY understood the meaning of service then he would have followed the STANDARDS of the UCMJ and current policy. Instead he decided to play politics, like most folks in NYC. His politics were more important to him than his military service. THAT is why he was discharged. All the liberal noise about the tragedy that occurred here needs to be redirected at the member that said to himself that he wanted to make a statement rather than serve the nation. He knew the rules and chose to violate them. He wasted the taxpayer’s money and now is playing the victim. He does not have the right. AND MILITARY SERVICE IS NOT A RIGHT; IT IS A PRIVILEGE THAT YOU EARN, EVERY DAY! The military did not waste the money here, Choi did. The military did not lie about the rules, Choi decided to violate them knowing the consequences. Think about this man's commander and fellow service members. They most likely felt kicked in the gut knowing that Choi was willing to undermine the mission to play politics. Good riddance. You could have served 20 years, retired honorably, and played politics all you wanted. Clinton created this lie within a lie. Blame your ridiculous democratic party hero for playing social experimentation games with the military after running away from military service himself. Do not blame the military for doing its job under the rules. We kicked out Kelly Flynn because she did not have a clue as well. The same for Ryan Berry. Service first, self after that. When you are responsible for killing people and breaking things you do not want selfish folks playing games. You want steady folks that understand the standards and apply them fairly.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  20. Scott

    Thank goodness someone is being held to a higher standard. Lt Choi KNEW the rules before he voluntarily agreed to abide by ALL OF THEM! Then he decided he wasn't going to follow them any longer and he wants us to feel sorry for him? Garbage. I am glad the Army put him out. If he had followed the rules, he'd still be serving his country. He broke a KNOWN rule...shame on him. Now let him pay the consequences.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  21. Mitzi

    Is it just me or did someone fail on the first part of "Don't ask" is that person also losing their job?

    May 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  22. Joe

    While the lieutenant may feel cheated by his dismissal, he knew this would result as a consequence of his personal violation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Whether he believed the policy to be right or wrong, it doesn't negate the fact that the policy is law ... signed by executive order during the Clinton administration.

    Make no mistake, the only thing which prevented the lieutenant from continued service as a military officer was his willingness to place personal desire above public law. This type of conduct, where laws are broken, cannot be tolerated in an organization that requires good order and discipline.

    As military officers, we state the following as part of our oath of office: "that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion." There are things that I don't always agree with, but I also know that I am bound tradition and honor to "well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office" on which I have entered.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  23. Keith AF1966-1969

    As a Viet Nam Vet I am disappointed that the OLD gaurd still cannot recognize they are being bigots. I am amazed Obama cannot get the bigots to change, he's president and they are to follow the comander in chief. alot of us voted for him because of his policies make sense, this does not make sense. Lt. Choi deserves our respect and we need to welcome patriots to our armed forces.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  24. Sarah C

    Maybe we should kick out all heterosexual male soldiers, so that our female soldiers will no longer have to suffer being sexually harassed and sexually assaulted with impunity.

    There is NO evidence that homosexual soldiers harm the morale or well-being of a unit. On the other hand, individual heterosexual male soldiers have on numerous occasions sexually assaulted their fellow soldiers.

    If we're going to kick out a group of people, maybe we should kick out a group where some of the members are actually harming their units.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:04 pm |
  25. jay

    I just don't get it. Who is going to replace these men and women? In my west Houston neighborhood, all the soon-to-be-graduates (and self proclaimed patriots) are not even considering serving and when I suggest it, they go as far as to say that the armed forces are for those who either can't afford college or have a death wish; two things that did not go through my head when I enlisted back in 1985. I say that we are in a time of national emergency with all the anti-American hatred that has grown in the last few years and the expansion of actual terrorist groups (as opposed to imagined ones) and the time is now to bring back the draft!

    May 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  26. plane

    SORRY BUT YOU BROKE THE RULE! Regardless of what the rule was, YOU BROKE IT! You break the rules, your OUT! Good bye.

    YOU ARE ALSO STUPID, what gives you the right to discuss your sexuality openly at work? Your a professional, act like one, you should NOT disclose information that will harm you, your career or life UNLESS you CHOOSE to live with the consequences!

    You broke the rules!

    May 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  27. Dan

    Lets get to the real root of the problem here; this is a religious issue and nothing more. It is the same old tired argument that the right has in regard to gay marriage.

    Lt. Choi is a West Point graduate and had to wrestle with his conscience every day, by lying to the miltary regime and most likely his fellow soliders. West Point has an honoe code and you are duty bound to tell the truth. And yet, the miltary says thats it is perfectly to enlist if you are gay, just lie and keep your mouth shut.

    Here is an honorable man who was willing to serve and die for country, does the fact that he is gay diminish that honor? The military has resorted to allowing the worst of the worst into their ranks because it has become so difficult to find quality men and women to enlist, and yet they decide that in time (of all times) that they cannot be embarassed by the fact that LT. Choi came out in such a public manner. And lets be honest, he was an asset to the military and to the soliders he served with.

    Finally, for all of you hipocrites who think and say that we gays should kep our mouth shut and/or go back to where we came from. .... I have news for you, the day is coming when the politicians and the public will have no other choice to finally admit to the blatant discriminatory practices that they have been inflicting upon society for all these years. I for one will be standing proud with my fellow gay brothers and sisters when that day comes, and make no mistake IT IS COMING!

    May 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  28. Matt

    Yup, this country sucks. The last election wasn't even between the lesser of two evils but between more of the same and a puppet and the puppet won. Time for me to move somewhere else.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  29. Hunter

    I'm a veteran. I say we all sh*t, shower, and shave together... men, women, gays, lesbians, straights, switch hitters, blacks, whites, asians, etc. Pretty soon we'll stop caring about who's allowed in since everyone will be too busy watching whatever their favorite flavor is.

    p.s. I'm a straight white guy and I approve this message.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  30. Happy Canuck

    The US is such a backwater when it comes to social policy. Here in Canada we have gay marriage and hetero marriage hasn't suffered. We have openly gay service men and women and military cohesion and morale have not suffered. Yet Amerkan homophobes are allowed to hide behind myths and fears of what might happen. It's sickening. But it's also a great reason to feel good about being Canadian (as if universal health care and gun registration weren't enough). Where this issue is concerned Amurkans make the huge mistake of subjecting minorities to the whims of the majority. In Canada there are some things too important and fundamental to be decided by referendum. Deciding human rights buy popular vote leads to the tyranny of the majority and other things like holocaust.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  31. Luke

    Its an open and shut case. He knew the rule, probably knew he was going to get kicked out but chose to do it anyone. He is an officer, how is he supposed to tell an enlisted man to follow his order when he is not following rules himself. The DADT may be backwards and outdated, when Clinton signed it it was a stepping stone, and it will probably be repealed some day. But until than he knew the consequences and in my opinion he was just trying to make himself a martyr for the cause. He knew dang well he would be dismissed. The army is built on discipline and rules. Last time I checked there is no draft, so he knew what he was volunteering for. quit crying

    May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  32. Billy

    Hey, I was a commander, and I can tell you exactly what I thought of the don't ask, don't tell law. It goes both ways, I did not want to hear anyones sexual orientation! No one is better because of his/her sexual orientation, so why do you have this sudden urge to tell me, I don't want to hear it, if your straight good for you, if you are gay, good for you. Why is it, if you are gay, you want to tell erveryone?

    May 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  33. Craig

    an open response to "Retired Army:"

    I do not understand where your conclusions come from. Face it, there are gay people serving in the military. There always have been, and there will always will be. Why not judge people on what they do rather than what they state? Do you want to ban me because of my political views? How about my race, religion, ancestry, hair color, etc? All of these have been prevalent in the past. Do they really make a difference in job performance? There are rules for "actions," not "statements" concerning fraternization (regardless of sex) between consenting adults in particular environments (like on a ship). Make rules on action not statements.

    For the record, I am an Air Force Vietnam vet, and I absolutely disagree with not only what you state, but how you want to generalize your beliefs as common to all who have served, when it is plainly not true

    May 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  34. JK

    Please stop bashing the military for this. It is a government policy that the military has NO CHOICE but to follow. Trust me you do not want military Senior Leaders deciding which Government Policies they want to follow and to ignore.

    May 8, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  35. Robin

    I'm in the military, and have served with several homosexuals for years. I don't care if they're gay – they don't care that I'm straight. We do our jobs, get along, and accomplish the mission. Those of us who have raised our right hand all bleed the same blood; we're all willing to take a bullet for our country.

    May 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  36. Jeff

    Everyone should have the right to serve their country.

    May 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  37. TJ

    Imagine that, alot of bleeding heart liberals crying on CNN. Big shocker there. The military doesn't kick you out if you're gay. The military kicks you out if you openly declare you are gay. The military isn't about the individual. The military is about the team. Lt Choi chose his individuality over the US military. I applaud him for coming out, and wish him well in the future. Like a previous writer posted, the FBI and CIA need Arabic translators. I don't think they have the DADT policy, and would probably be more than happy to deploy Choi to the Middle East.

    May 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  38. Jay

    Good for the army. If the people actually in the military are claming it's a distraction, who is a liberal president to provide that distraction? Presidents hop into the military's business way too often.

    Flame and troll me if you like. Hippies always do.

    May 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  39. valwayne

    Obama and the Democrats are in complete control of the Government. They promised to end descrimination against gay men and women risking their lives for their country. They lied to and betrayed the gay men and women risking their lives for their country and for freedom. They lied to and betrayed the entire gay community that helped vote them into office. And even worse for Lt. Choi. As a veteran he is now on a watch list from Obama's Dept of Homeland Security as a potential right wing domestic terrorist. His phone may be tapped. This is what the gay community supported so strongly last Nov? What a bunch of dupes!

    May 8, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
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