A reader writes:
You say you're tired of the kind of calculations that say Dan Choi chaining himself to the gates was a bad choice. Andrew, aren't you the guy who advocates for gays to explain that they are "virtually normal" - that they deserve the same rights as everybody else, because outside the bedroom they're the same as everybody else? The best way to advocate for the rights Dan Choi deserves is for him to stand up and speak to people, in Congress, in public - to show them he's just as good as anyone so that folks, no matter where they're from, can understand the depth of the injustice done to him. Chaining yourself to a gate isn't relatable; it's a stunt.
You, HRC, Dan are already converts. He deserves to be treated as the competent soldier he always was, and to do less is to violate his dignity, the dignity of the military, the dignity of this country. Yet he presented the image of a soldier hanging on a fence. In uniform. It fed every argument made by the opposition to his argument - that gay soldiers don't uphold the dignity of the military. It was a bassackward move on his part. Well meant, done from understandable passion and it took guts. But all it did was let a gay guy hang the revered uniform of the US military on a fence like some rainbow flag. That's how it will play to the opposition. That's who you're trying to defeat. Right?
With DADT in its last year, Choi is young enough to wait it out and be welcomed back to his honorable service when it is gone. I would not and do not expect that to be the case now that he has used the uniform in this stunt. Our military’s tradition is to stay out of the streets and political passions, and Choi has to be very aware his actions last week would be frowned on as unprofessional in the eyes of the officers he professes to want to rejoin. Not long ago you had stories that conveyed the attitude of many gay service members who want to stay away from gay activism and politics and only want to serve quietly but free of the fear of a career ending incident such as the outing of the Air Force sergeant in Iowa. This stunt was the opposite of that desire.
I too am a gay veteran, one whose service spanned the time before and after DADT came into effect. The military was the career I had dreamed of growing up, but the service ironically instilled in me the maturity and self-confidence to embrace my sexual orientation and chose to voluntarily leave the service at the end of my commitment rather than serve in the closet. The impending repeal comes achingly close after I have become too old to return to the career I had wanted. It is incredibly frustrating to see Choi choose throw away the chance to return to a respected career for a little melodrama and personal fame that will not influence the outcome of this debate.
Well his "stunt" certainly isn't impeding progress on DADT.