Monday, March 22, 2010

Dan Choi on Kathy Griffin and HRC: 'I feel so betrayed by them.' // Cops refused him his phone call, lawyer, in jail

John Aravosis, This guy is good!

When you walked into the courtroom after your night in jail, you were in uniform, handcuffed with a chain around your waist. You are a West Point graduate and Army lieutenant, how did you reach this point?

Being in chains, for me, matched what was in my heart the whole time I was serving and was closeted. Harriet Tubman once said she had freed 1,000 slaves but could have freed so many more if they only knew that they were slaves. People don't always know that they are in fetters. Even my feet were shackled so I could only take small steps forward. To me that symbolizes what it is to live under Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the only law that enforces shame. Those chains symbolized how my country is trying to restrict my movement, how we are only allowed incremental, tiny steps.

Why now? Because you get tired of talking. [Over the past two years] I've done 50 live interviews, a hundred other interviews, how much more talk am I expected to produce? When I heard Kathy Griffin was going to be a spokeswoman for Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I wondered about that. I have great respect for her as an advocate. But if [the Human Rights Campaign] thinks that having a rally at Freedom Plaza with a comedienne is the right approach, I have to wonder. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is not a joking matter to me. To be at Freedom Plaza and not at the White House or Congress? Who are they trying to influence?

I felt like they were just trying to speak to themselves. If that's the best the lobbying groups and HRC can do, then I don't know how these powerful groups are supposed to represent our community. Kathy Griffin and [HRC president] Jay Solmonese said they would march with me to the White House but didn’t. I feel so betrayed by them.

We all know the political reality now. The only way for the repeal to go through is for the president to take leadership and put it in the Defense Authorization Bill. There's a sunset on this, and it's happening quickly. Obama told us at the HRC dinner last year, you need to put pressure on me. I was there at that dinner, in uniform. So this is my mission; the president said to pressure him and I heard that as a warning order.

Get this - they wouldn't give him his phone call, or let him call a lawyer:
I asked seven or eight times to speak with a lawyer. I was not given a phone call. I was called a liar by one officer; I was scoffed at by another one. But there were others who wanted to talk with me about their service. The first time I saw a lawyer was in the courtroom, and I didn't know who he was and I couldn't understand what he was telling the judge at first. I asked him, "Did you just plea for me?"

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