[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/05/11/art.dan.choi.jpg caption="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.
Daniel W. Choi
New York Army National Guard