Lt. Dan Choi Found Guilty in DADT Protest
A federal court found Dan Choi guilty of a criminal misdemeanor in federal court on Thursday. The openly gay former Army lieutenant, found himself in the media spotlight after he handcuffed himself to the White House fence in protest of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, received a fine of $100, the Washington Post reports.
Choi, 32, faced up to six months in federal prison for protesting DATA at the White House on Nov. 15, 2010. The U.S. Park Police charged the West Point graduate and 12 other protesters with a criminal misdemeanor back in May 2011, they all pleaded guilty except Choi, who was the only defendant to plead not guilty.
Despite the nominal fine, Choi could still face jail time if he does not pay the fine in protest.
Many consider Choi a hero after he came out on "The Rachel Maddow Show" in 2009 during a time when being openly gay in the military was against the law. He was discharged from the military for violating DADT, which was repealed in 2011, and became one of the most prominent activists against the military policy, which President Barack Obama repealed a month after Choi was arrested.
In an open letter to Obama, Choi said that DADT is "a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers."
According to The Washington Post, Choi’s "erratic demeanor swung from emotional outbursts to belligerent confrontations with a U.S. Park Police officer and the federal prosecutor." Choi was dressed in a military uniform and walked back and forth in the courtroom as he served as his own lawyer.
Choi was weeping as he pleaded, "All I want at the end of this day is to return to the U.S. Military." Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola warned Choi after he used a vulgar slang. "That may be appropriate in the barracks," Facciola said. "It’s not appropriate here."
Choi, who graduated from West Point with a degree in Arabic, served in the Iraq war as an infantry officer. In 2011, he was arrested in Moscow along with Russian gay activists when he participated in a gay pride parade that public officials had banned.
In Oct. 2010, Choi applied to rejoin the Army.