Friday, February 12, 2010

Courage Campaign host DADT conversation with Lt. Dan Choi and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator from...Image via Wikipedia
Thursday I joined a conference call hosted by the Courage Campaign about repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. On the call, Lt. Dan Choi and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The timing of the call was great because Lt. Choi had just returned to his unit for a training exercise. There had been many questions about how he was allowed to do with DADT still in place.

Lt. Choi discussed the importance of going back when called. He told those on the call,
"I promised to go back. I feel it is my duty and my responsibility to go back and serve and to continue to speak out." 
Choi explained that he had never been officially discharged. Since he is fighting the discharge he is technically still in the guard. While on the call I had the chance to ask Lt. Choi a question. I was curious about where the order came from that brought him back to active duty? Lt. Choi first corrected me that he is "actively serving" as opposed to being on "active duty." Lt. Choi then said,
"My Commanding Officer called me in and said we need all the trained bodies we can get." 
Choi has consistently maintained that his CO never wanted to discharge him because of DADT. Choi also responded to the idea that he has been silenced by returning to service. Choi stated,
"I am not being silenced and will continue to speak out."
Choi mentioned that this is a test. Not a test for him but a test for our community. Choi challenged the listeners on the call,
"This is where we are tested - People are watching - Will you quit?"

Another key figure in the repeal process for DADT is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Sen. Gillibrand has been instrumental in bringing the DADT hearings to the Senate.
"Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a black mark on our history," said Gillibrand. 
Senator Gillibrand, when asking her colleagues what they needed to vote for this repeal, received two answers - leadership from the President and leadership from the military. Now that both have happened Gillibrand believes the Democrats have no choice but to vote for the repeal.

Gillibrand is hoping to make things happen quickly. She says,
"I want an immediate moratorium, repeal or a stoppage of funding for the discharges. I believe we can stop this now and then the military can have its year to decide how to implement it."
The Courage Campaign has a petition to repeal DADT immediately.Please go here and sign it today. These will be presented by Senator Gillibrand to Chairman Levin.

You can listen to the full conversation with Lt. Choi and Senator Gillenbrand here.
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