02/10/2010- by Natasia Langfelder
Lt. Dan Choi will be one of the Grand Marshalls at the 2010 NYC Pride Parade. Lt. Choi has been in the media spotlight and has garnered attention regarding DADT. NYC Pride released a press statement explaining their choice:
Lt. Dan Choi graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 2003 with a degree in Arabic and Environmental Engineering. He served as an infantry officer and served an extended combat tour in Iraq (2006-2007). His fluency in Arabic and West Point degree became very useful to the Army’s mission in Iraq as he did not need to use an interpreter. He served as a combat leader, government liaison, and reconstruction officer, rehabilitating water infrastructure. When he returned home he began his first love relationship with his current boyfriend, despite the ban on gay military service. He decided he could not lie about love and so left active duty in 2008. He continued to serve in the Army National Guard.As a founder of “Knights Out”, the West Point LGBT Alumni, he has been at the forefront of the repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy and reminds all soldiers that they are not alone and they should never be ashamed of being honest with themselves and others. He declared his sexual orientation publicly on national television, which resulted in a notification of discharge despite his desire to continue serving. However, as of February 5th, it was announced that Lt. Choi was placed back on active service with Army National Guard.
Lt. Choi’s selection as the NYC Pride Grand Marshal speaks volumes to the struggle for equality among the LGBT community. His presence as Grand Marshal for 2010 NYC Pride March will serve as a reminder that the struggle for equality continues. Michael Owen, an NYC Pride member, stated that “Lt. Choi’s presence as our Grand Marshal will send a strong message to Washington that the time has come to end the discrimination of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and create an environment where our service men and women can serve their country in an honorable manner without having to hide who they are.”Enacted under the Clinton administration in 1993, DADT has resulted in countless discharges of competent and much needed soldiers, many of whom like Lt. Choi speak fluent Arabic. It was the lack of Arabic speakers in our intelligence/defense forces that caused a delay in the translation of terrorist communications by Al-Qaeda. The paramount issue, in this writer’s view, is that DADT forces our honorable men and women in service to live a lie, which is contrary to the core values that are instilled within the Armed Forces.Those who criticize the repeal of DADT, like Sean Hanity and Oliver North, they should wake up and smell the coffee. More than 2 dozen countries around the world (most of whom are our allies) allow LGBT people to serve openly in their armed forces, and the issue has not caused any disruption or problems. If the Greeks and Romans allowed gays to serve openly, why can’t we? By repealing the chains of DADT, we will free our soldiers from the stress of being in the closet while serving their country. Lt. Choi serves as a perfect example that we need not live under such repressive conditions and that the march of equality MUST move forward.If the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense can openly support the repeal of DADT, the hypocrites in Washington need to listen. For years we have heard our lawmakers constantly defer to our military commanders on how best to run the Armed Forces, and the repeal of DADT is no different.Justice and Liberty for all, no less no more. That is why we must repeal DADT.
NYC Pridefest takes place Hudson St. between Abingdon Sq. & West 14th St. – Sunday, June 27th, 2010, 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM