A consummate disgrace

I first became aware of Knights Out when my mother told me about them. For those of you unfamiliar with them, they are an organization of West Point alumni that are openly gay, lesbian or transgender. They are opposed to the antiquated and appalling Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, by which gay and lesbian soldiers are prohibited from serving their country in the military. Lt. Daniel Choi, an Iraq vet and Arabic linguist who took the courageous step of coming out of the closet on national television, is a founding member.

Sadly but unsurprisingly, Lt. Choi has been discharged from the Army in response to doing so. He wrote, in an open letter to the President posted yesterday:
At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.


I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.


The Department of the Army sent a letter discharging me on April 23rd. I will not lie to you; the letter is a slap in the face. It is a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

My subordinates know I’m gay. They don’t care. They are professional.

Further, they are respectable infantrymen who work as a team. Many told me that they respect me even more because I trusted them enough to let them know the truth. Trust is the foundation of unit cohesion.

After I publicly announced that I am gay, I reported for training and led rifle marksmanship. I ordered hundreds of soldiers to fire live rounds and qualify on their weapons. I qualified on my own weapon. I showered after training and slept in an open bay with 40 other infantrymen. I cannot understand the claim that I “negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard.” I refuse to accept this statement as true.

Repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell was one of Obama's campaign promises, and it is a promise he could easily keep. I share Andrew's disgust that he has decided not to attend to this promptly, and am increasingly unimpressed by his attention (or lack thereof) to the promises he made to my community during his campaign.

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