BY Advocate Contributors
November 09 2009 10:00 AM ET
The Soldier: Dan Choi
If you haven’t heard of New York Army National Guard lieutenant Dan Choi by now, you probably haven’t watched The Rachel Maddow Show, gone to a rally, or signed a “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal petition over the past year.
Choi first made headlines in March when Knights Out, a group of rogue U.S. Military Academy alumni—yes, that’s West Point—decided to break their stoic silence and come out of the closet. But when Choi appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show later in the month to talk about Knights Out, the Pentagon decided he was breaking rule number 2 of its ban on openly gay personnel—he told. And he kept telling.
A month later, when Choi was handed a notification that he would be investigated for breaching DADT policy, the Iraq war veteran and Arabic linguist got louder. He spoke everywhere. Choi penned an open letter to Congress and President Barack Obama, two major players in repealing the Pentagon’s ban, pleading to keep his job. “As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging,” he wrote. “But I beg you today: Do not fire me.”
More than 162,000 people signed a petition circulated by the Courage Campaign in support of Choi. Nonetheless, after a hearing in front of four military officials in Syracuse, N.Y., he was discharged.
But this hasn’t deterred Choi, who has become the face of the movement to end DADT.
“Many of us have been discharged from the service because we told the truth,” he said at the National Equality March in October. “But I know that love is worth it. We love our country, even when our country refuses to acknowledge our love. But we continue to defend it, and we continue to protect it, because love is worth it.”