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Lt. Dan Choi: Helping or hurting gays in the military?
Openly gay Lt. Dan Choi was arrested for chaining himself to the White House fence to protest "don't ask, don't tell." With Congress already considering a repeal, is civil disobedience wise?
 
Dan Choi marches in a gay rights parade through San Francisco.
Dan Choi marches in a gay rights parade through San Francisco.
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In a move that could widen a split among civil rights activists, Lt. Dan Choi and another gay soldier were arrested Thursday for chaining themselves to the White House fence to protest the ban on gays in the military. Establishment groups such as the Human Rights Campaign generally support President Obama, who has promised to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But Choi crashed an HRC rally before his arrest, saying it's time for more aggressive action. (Watch a CNN report about Lt. Dan Choi's protest.) Here, opponents of "don't ask, don't tell" debate whether civil disobedience helps their cause, or reinforces the conservative argument that gay activists are radicals outside America's mainstream:

Choi isn't doing his cause any favors: This is a "delicate time," says Bridgette LaVictoire in Lez Get Real, with Congress actively discussing the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." Lt. Dan Choi's antics only make opponents of the ban on gays in the military look like self-aggrandizing rabble-rousers.
"Lt. Choi apparently plans to chain self to White House fence to protest don't ask law"

Sometimes civil disobeience is the only answer: Dan Choi may have hurt his "brand and credibility," says Rob Smith in The Huffington Post, but he also lit "a fire under each and every one of us that cares as deeply as he does about Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal." Sometimes, when you're fighting for human rights, it doesn't pay to be "complacent."
"Did Dan Choi jump the shark, or has the gay community forgotten what real activism is?"

It's too early to say whether Choi's antics did any good: There's no question that Lt. Dan Choi "Kanye'd" the Human Rights Campaign, say the editors of Queerty, by upstaging their rally. Along with the near simultaneous arrest at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office of five fellow activists from the group Get Equal, Choi staged a PR coup. But the momentum will fizzle fast unless Choi and his comrades can keep it up.
"Here's what Lt. Dan Choi and Robin McGehee did completely right. And what went horribly wrong"

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SEE MORE OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
Will Obama end don't ask, don't tell?
The future of don't ask, don't tell

 

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