07/22/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
Lieutenant Daniel Choi has been more than willing to hide the fact that he was discharged on 29 June. On 8 July, Choi even claimed “I am paid by the Army and the Veterans Affairs (50% service disability)” in a text exchange between him and Dr. Paula Brooks. He was informed of his discharge by Lieutenant Colonel Paul A. Fanning by phone on that day. He was informed by certified mail as well, and someone by his surname signed for that letter. According to the letter, a memorandum dated 21 June 2010 concerned “withdraw of Federal Recognition for 1LT Choi, Daniel W., New York National Guard.” Choi was discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. This means that he is no longer paid by the military.
Why has Choi been unwilling to admit that he was discharged until tonight? Why has he not been willing to admit it until tonight? His discharge would have been the ultimate propaganda coup for him and his group, but then, it creates a bigger problem for Choi. It has been twenty-four days since Choi was officially discharged, and certainly been more than willing to wear his uniform in public. Indeed, he may have been in violation of the law by doing so since it is a violation for anyone who is not within the military to wear an official military uniform.
Daniel Choi has disgraced his uniform by continuing to wear it despite being discharged, and he has used it in such a manner which is, ultimately, a prop for him in the political theater that he has engaged in with Get Equal. He has been more than willing to wear his uniform while handcuffed to the White House fence, angering many servicemembers and even turning them against the cause of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Choi’s constant use of his uniform as a costume for his appearances in public have, ultimately, turned many within the military against him, and likely even made it harder for many leaders within the LGBT movement to approach the military chiefs in a manner which could have and even were making them at least less hostile towards repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
The tactics used by Dan Choi, who claims to have no affiliation with Get Equal, and the group he has been arrested the most with, namely Get Equal, have been problematic at best. While it may seem like targeting Senator Harry Reid may feel nice, stopping traffic in one of the most heavily trafficked areas in his state is not the best way to get people on our side. Instead of targeting the swing votes on legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Choi and Get Equal have done their best to attack those who are ardent supporters of the LGBT movement. Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid cannot move on legislation that they do not have the votes for, and by targeting them instead of targeting those who do not support pro-LGBT legislation, all Choi and Get Equal do is waste valuable time and energy.
While it is regrettable that Dan Choi was discharged, he has chosen to act in a manner that is beyond disrespectful of the women and men who serve in the military. These are the women and men he is suppose to be trying to help, and instead, he had done so much to make repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that much harder, and made it that much harder for them while in the service.
He has also hidden his discharge from the eyes of the public. This is a man who has been strongly and adamantly in favor of repealing DADT, and yet, when he is discharged, he is silent until tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show. He refuses to admit to having been informed at the time, and has said that he was informed by the media at a later time. The question is, why did he have to hide this until tonight?