Telling, Not Asking: A Dish Series

The DADT e-mails we've received from current and former enlisted personnel are worth compiling, and the Dish will continue posting these stories so long as they keep coming in. Lieutenant Choi's UC San Diego speech provides the title of the series. The transcript is posted after the jump:

My name is Dan Choi. I am a West Point graduate. I am a Lieutenant in the United States Army.

I am gay.

I serve my country. I serve my country because I heard a leader say: “ASK NOT what your country can do for you… ASK what you can do for your country.” But when I step up to serve our country, to put my life on the line to protect my community, to protect my neighbors, to protect my family, to protect America, I am ordered… DON’T ASK. I am ordered… DON’T TELL.

I serve with 65,000 selfless gay and lesbian Americans; we are ordered to deny who we are. We’re ordered to HIDE. But I am not hiding anymore. I am not asking permission anymore. I am done ASKING. I am TELLING. I am gay.

Courage is the bedrock of action and the foundation of leadership. The courageous soldier who steps up to meet the needs of our country is the very essence of our country. When the courage hides, the country hides. But a soldier does not hide, and a soldier does not allow his leaders to hide.

The truth is, Gays and Lesbians have served our country since its founding. They defended our country even before our country learned how to discriminate against them. They have served and they have risked their lives, and they have been killed in combat for their country. To protect their country’s freedoms, they risk their very existence – yet they are not free to exist. They go to war so their neighbors at home can live in peace and find love and marriage- yet they are not free to love or marry. They fight terrorists in other countries so that American citizens won’t have to live in fear- yet they are terrorized by fear of revealing their true lives. To protect free speech they do what they’re told- yet they are ordered DON’T TELL.

But now is the time to tell. I am done ASKING. I am TELLING. I am gay. I am gay. I am gay.

We are told that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is inevitable. We are told our equality will be restored, that equality is a HUMAN RIGHT. But RIGHTS are aren’t simply given to those who wait. Rights are earned. For a soldier, RIGHTS are not simply entitlements. They are a responsibilities. And when I look at the Constitution I see more than a list of rights. I see a list of my responsibilities. And so I came out, in order to fulfill these responsibilities, to fight for the rights of 65,000 gay and lesbians in the US Military. The time for waiting is over, the time for asking is over. It’s time to tell. It’s time to stand. It’s time to fight for America.