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May 13th, 2009
12:58 PM ET

"Please do not fire me."

1st Lt. Dan Choi

1st Lt. Dan Choi

Dan Choi came out as gay in March. If he weren't a member of the U.S. military, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But he is, so IT is.

Here are some excerpts from his open letter to President Obama and members of Congress

Have a look, then tell us what you think:

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

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.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

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.

Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.

Very Respectfully,
Daniel W. Choi
1LT, IN
New York Army National Guard


Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Ray Lawson

    Over 1,400 fighters thrown out of the service since don't ask don't tell started while two wars are going on. Isn't that kind of like shooting every solder in the foot before sending them into battle? Where does this make sense?

    Ray Lawson

    May 13, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  2. Dan Knutson

    I think its ridiculous at this time of need to turn away our own citizens that want to help and serve. Are gays not good enough for service? I would feel the same honor if a gay or straight person died for our country. I especially think that if a gay has died we should honor who they are instead of tainting their memory with a lie.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  3. MIKE BROGAN

    I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT THIS FOR SOME TIME. WHAT I CAME UP WITH IS WHY CAN'T THE MILITARY DO SOMETHING LIKE THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS IN THE THE US CAV. HAVE A COMPANY OR BATILION OF GAY MEN THAT WANT TO DEFEND THEIR COUNTRY.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  4. Todd

    Quite frankly, I don't get it. Why is being gay such a big deal in America? Why is a problem for the military? There is this disconnect with reality and in a country that prides itself on freedom and liberty there all these "social rules" which continue to restrict people's lives.

    So soldiers might feel uncomfortable if a comrade is gay? Hello, discomfort is a foxhole, being under sniper fire, etc. If this is such a problem these soldiers are clearly not tough enough to face the real discomfort coming your way. Suck it up, you're going to serve beside highly trained professional comrades. Some of them will be black, female, latino, male, asian, and some will be gay. Shock! You're there to be a soldier not editorialize on what you believe to be right.

    And on the "right" front, why are you fighting overseas. Oh yeah, so Iraqis and Afghani people can have freedom and liberty. Perhaps the military should model its philosophy for all American citizens and not just those it choose to agree with.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Mike

    Current Military policy states personnel may not ask if a member is gay, and a member may not say he is... or is not gay.

    This, historically protected the military's equal opportunity policy.
    No one I know in the military cares if someone is male/female, black/white, christian/muslim, gay/straight.

    Policy also prevents these demographics from being used for advancements, promotions, selections, or evaluations.

    Is the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy correct/current? Not for me to say. I do know that other Service Member's rights are not specifically hidden.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Edie Scott

    I really thought we were past this issue. What is this saying? That gays are second-class citizens? Gays are unintelligent? Gays can't hold responsible positions? Being gay is a sexual preference, not a disability! If you knew what some heterosexuals do in the bedroom you would cringe! Get over yourselves and leave this man alone...let him do his job....and he probably does it better than most people.

    Disgusted in Massachusetts

    May 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm |
  7. Jane Lynn

    Dan Choi is a wonderful role model for all Americans. He is standing up for his rights in an assertive - not an aggressive - manner. He is a Class Act !! And is to be applauded.

    Thank you Dan.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  8. Angel Soto

    I don't believe in banning homosexual people from armed forces. If Congress repeal Don't ask, don't tell. They should assign funds to build separate barracks for them. Female rules should apply to them. I'm not a sexist. But in reality there are some MOS's(Miltary Ocuppation Specialty) banned for women. Like Infantry, combat engineers and tankers.

    Angel Soto
    P.Rico

    May 13, 2009 at 1:44 pm |
  9. California Man

    Words cannot speak, express and explain what the heart, the mind and soul has hidden inside. We , as a nation sometimes look at the outerman when we should be looking at the innerman. when we deal with our innermost parts of our mind, it tends to bring out our self-centered minds, thus projecting our beliefs on others. This, is the conclusion of a confused mind, trapped, bound and slowly escaping normalities path, projecting forward like an arrow in flight, awaiting to land on many innocent minds, hurting the very young, the tender, the minds of others awaiting to serve, protect and be proud.

    It is with sad respect, that we must now spend tax payers dollars on a subject that is considered unworthy to speak on. One should keep there prespective's in order, rather then interupt the whole.

    May 13, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  10. Pam

    Ignorance and hate lead to such incredible bad decisions. We are losing honorable, brave young men and women in our military because of this. The only way we all can come together is thru understanding, love and acceptance of one another.

    May 13, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  11. Dee in sunny (and dry) Florida

    I thought the original reason that gays were not wanted in the miitary was one of security. That is, if a gay person who was "in the closet" were to be approached by a spy and blackmailed into giving up secrets, it could be detrimental to our national security.

    Today, when MANY, MANY gay people have "come out", how can this even be a factor? If a person is OPENLY gay, and treated just as every other person is trested, what would be the basis for blackmail or any other kind of pressure? I think the "don't ask, don't tell" is worse for security than openly gay men and women serving, as the basis for blackmail might still be there.

    I just don't know why it should be an issue. Gays are NOT going to run rampant in the barracks, accosting straight people and forcing them into sex. If they are given the same rights and protections as straight people, there should not be a problem.

    After all, just allowing gays to serve openly in the military does NOT make being gay MANDATORY!

    Lighten up, folks. Many gay people would LOVE to serve their country but are deterred because of a stupid and archaic policy.

    May 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  12. Woody

    Once again Obama Lied and Needs to Be Impeached!!!

    May 13, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  13. Do You

    Please stop comparing being gay to being a minority. Nobody ever asks me if I'm heterosexual. Be who you are. Do you really need people to approve? I don't announce my sexual orientation to the world. Why should anyone else? This is so annoying. Be gay all day if you want to. Nobody cares.

    May 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  14. Randal Coon

    As for the Sargeant that shot 5 of his comrades, there is no shortage of what he apparently told others well before he broke. I am so sorry for the five that were killed, as I am for the thousands of other soldiers who have died, and the many thousands of Iraqis, Pakistanis and Afghanis who have also died.
    THIS MAN SIMPLY "WENT POSTAL" and that should be a valid defense to send him for mental help-what he asked for before the incident.
    We cannot expect these guys and girls to go on tour after tour after tour, and never break . IT IS THE GOVERNMENTS PROBLEM.
    HE SIMPLY WENT POSTAL, AND I AM SURE HE WAS NOT THE FIRST IN THIS WAR.
    You can only KILL so many people without losing your sense of right and wrong. I could not do it even once. Think it about.

    May 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  15. Randal Coon

    I am against abortion. My wife had one shortly before we met and were married 30 years, until she died. It bothered her daily until her death.
    BUT: I am not a one issue person. I oppose poverty as well. I am against war as well.
    IF I WERE OBAMA, I WOULD CANCEL, AND TURN THE INSTITUTION DOWN TO AVOID CONTROVERSY WITH CRAZY ONE ISSUE PERSONS.

    May 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  16. P2blawyer

    1lt Choi doesnt seem to realize that he went into the military with don't ask, don't tell in place. The policy was reached as a midpoint between liberals and conservatives regarding homosexuality.

    Homosexuality is immoral and a weakness, and it has no place in the U.S. Military. This has nothing to do with equal protections, or discrimination or social values. It has to do with the simple fact that this is the current policy in place, and if it needs to be changed than that is up to the legislature. They are the ones that make laws and policy. The President should have never gotten involved.

    I thank the Leuitenant for his sacrificies, however they were made under false pretenses. We all know the risks our soilders take, and we dont need soilders who are intrinsically weak to put themselves in compromising situations that will jeopardize our safety, the safety of soilders, and the safety of our national security.

    May 14, 2009 at 2:56 am |
  17. Brian Zielinski

    What happened to this soldier was in my opinion, Wrong. He's good enough to fight for his country and yet he's treated like he's an illegal alien. I really don't believe that he deserved a dishonorable discharge. It's really not fair for the young Gay Soldiers in today's military. They say that the military has changed but it really hasn't...

    May 14, 2009 at 9:56 am |
  18. Scott P., Sacramento, CA

    Thank you for your honorable service, and dedication as a member of the United States Armed Forces. While I respect your rights as a human being, to choose your own lifestyle, I don't respect your need to flaunt your sexual orientation. Let me explain; don't kid yourself, everybody knew you were gay, before you "Came Out Of The Closet", and they overlooked it. It was your choice to make a spectacle of your sexual orientation – for whatever reason – I suspect that it had something to do with all the attention that it would bring your way, as well as a potential windfall from the lawsuit that you undoubtedly filed for this "Outrageous" act of "Discrimination"! SHAME ON YOU!

    May 14, 2009 at 10:49 am |
  19. vdivine

    In Roman days and in Greece and in slavery it was common to have men as lovers. What is the big deal? Homophobics really ought to calm down! Nobody is going to come on to you...you are not that important!

    May 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  20. Jamila Malluf

    Fire Him!

    May 14, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  21. Marc from San Diego

    It is a shame that President Obama is not following through on his campaign promise to have DADT repealed. DADT does not serve the national interest but rather the interest of homophobic generals. There is no real leadership in the Congess or the White House and yet they eagerly took the gay vote. Equal Protection has been quite the struggle for minorities and still has a long way to go. Our US military seems more concerned about their fear of homosexuality than in championing and upholding the US Constitution's equal protection guarantees. Maybe the younger generation coming up through the ranks will over come the fear of the present leaders. Time heals and eventually change will come...even if this President is afraid to touch it now.

    May 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  22. ckw

    Think about this: In years past, isn't it possible that there were already people that were gay serving their country and we just didn't know it because it was always hidden and not talked about? Probably, so I'm not so sure if it really makes all that much difference, even though I don't think it's right for people to be gay.

    May 15, 2009 at 12:14 am |
  23. janet

    it's 2009 and if anyone has an issue with gays and leisbians in the country or the military .. and take their hating selves outta here. Discrimination is wrong wrong wrong no matter how you package it up.

    May 15, 2009 at 12:17 am |

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