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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 16, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 29
Charges dropped against Choi and Pietrangelo
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Charges dropped against Choi and Pietrangelo

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On July 14, prosecutors dropped all charges against Army Lieutenant Dan Choi and Captain James Pietrangelo, two openly Gay veterans who twice chained themselves to a White House fence to protest the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' (DADT) policy.

The two Gay activists appeared in court on charges of failure to obey police orders during the March and April protests. Choi and his attorney had subpoenaed President Barack Obama to appear, but an attorney for the prosecution said the subpoena was never served.

Prosecutor Christine Chang declined to comment on why the government dropped the case. Choi said he believes Obama administration officials didn't want to draw attention to the policy, which is currently under review by top military brass.

"Today, truth was the victor against a demeaning, discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" Choi said in a statement released to SGN. "We won't stop pressing for repeal and pressuring those standing in the way until the day comes when not one more Gay or Lesbian servicemember is fired. And, as of today, the president refuses to tell us when that day will actually come."

"It is clear that the government was embarrassed and we were prepared to make them defend this antiquated and homophobic law. The government is afraid of having to defend this issues," Pietrangelo said. "The subpoena was an embarrassment for them, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an embarrassment for them, and, after three months of discovery and preparation, the government dropped the case because they know it's an embarrassment."

"Civil disobedience won today," said Robin McGehee, co-founder and co-director of GetEQUAL, an LGBT advocacy organization fighting for full equality for the community. "We're thrilled today that Choi and Pietrangelo's actions have been validated and that non-violent civil disobedience has been proven again to be effective in combating prejudice. We are proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and other LGBT active-duty servicemembers who are taking action to end this discriminatory policy."

"We were ready to put 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on trial today, but it was clear the government was embarrassed to defend an indefensible policy," said Mark Goldstone, lawyer for Choi and Pietrangelo. "Did the White House make a last-minute call to prevent this embarrassment from continuing? Clearly, someone did."

Goldstone said that all fair-minded people should continue to agitate for actual and immediate repeal of the unjust, unfair policy. "This is a big win for nonviolent resistance to unjust policies and proves if you speak truth to power, good things can happen," he said.

Ann Wilcox, another lawyer on Choi and Pietrangelo's defense teams, said, "They declined to prosecute because the case would embarrass the government. The president said it was important to pressure leaders like himself, and that is exactly what Choi and Pietrangelo did before and intended to do again today."

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