More GetEQUAL protests, arrests over DADT

By |2018-01-16T01:38:43-05:00June 3rd, 2010|News|

by Rex Wockner

GetEQUAL co-chair Kip Williams was arrested for shouting at President Barack Obama in San Francisco on May 25.
Obama was speaking at a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer at the Fairmont San Francisco hotel.
Williams said he yelled at Obama because the latest moves on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal are inadequate.

“The solution now being discussed to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is an empty, half measure and, even if passed, it will allow discharges of lesbian and gay service members to continue indefinitely,” Williams said in an interview.
“(The plan) has shifted responsibility off of Congress’ back and onto the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he said. “This bill is Congress saying: ‘Whenever you all decide you’re ready to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ we’re cool with it. You don’t have to check in with us again.'”
“It is a repeal of the law,” Williams said, “but the policy and practice (of DADT) doesn’t have to be phased out until (Defense Secretary) Robert Gates decides he’s ready to do it. There’s nothing binding, there’s no timeline, and it will not end the discharge of lesbian and gay service members now.”
Williams said he believes the plan unfolded the way it has because Gates is “the real holdup … the only real opposition.”
Williams said he was cited for disturbing the peace and released.
“It was the first time I’ve done something like that by myself,” he said. “I was close enough to see Obama’s face. I worked so hard on his campaign and I still believe in him and I support him and I wish I didn’t have to have that exchange with him and I saw the anger on his face when I started speaking, but I’m angry too, and I can’t be silent.”
“Move faster on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” Williams shouted during Obama’s speech.
Obama responded to the disruption.
“It’s good to see you,” the president said to Williams. “I have to say, you know, I saw this guy down in L.A. at a Barbara Boxer event about a month and a half ago and I would – two points I want to make: No. 1, he should – I hate to say this – but he really should, like, buy a ticket to … a guy who doesn’t support his point of view, and then you can yell as much as you want there.
“The other point is, maybe he didn’t read the newspapers, because we are working with Congress as we speak to roll back ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I actually think he does read the newspapers because he wasn’t as – his heart didn’t seem in it. He said, ‘Do it (repeal DADT) faster.’ It’s like, come on, man, I’m dealing with Congress here. It takes a little bit of time.”
In a press statement earlier in the day, GetEQUAL co-founder Robin McGehee set the stage for Williams’ heckling.
“After a year and a half of mostly inaction, the White House has offered our community a compromise that is movement forward on repeal, but unfortunately not nearly enough for those service members – some who stood handcuffed with us and faced arrest beside us at the White House – living under the shadow of this outdated, immoral law,” she said. “Together, our collective voice has moved the White House from a place of absence to involvement. However, we didn’t invest ourselves to this cause, nor spend nights under arrest in a jail cell for a compromise. President Obama, we won’t stop until you stop the immoral firing of our brothers and sisters in the military so that their integrity is restored, their jobs are secured and their families are recognized.”
Leading ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ activist Lt. Dan Choi, who has been arrested twice recently for handcuffing himself to the White House fence, also is dissatisfied with the latest plans.
“My question still remains, and I’ve yet to find anyone who signed off on yesterday’s compromise able to give me a direct answer to, ‘When exactly will the discharges stop?'” Choi said May 25. “Until the President signs the papers that fully and immediately end the firing of patriotic, gay and lesbian service members, then there is no cause for celebration and no reason to trumpet ‘mission accomplished’ for a job not yet done.”
Choi’s latest move was a hunger strike with fellow protester Capt. Jim Pietrangelo, which took place over Memorial Day weekend. It began just hours after the House voted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“We are fasting in pursuit of equality and dignity for LGBTQ soldiers and the complete repeal of DADT,” they wrote on their Facebook pages.
Before the passage, Choi went on to defend his and GetEQUAL’s stance of dissatisfaction. “We’ve heard a lot of talk about how this compromise can work politically, but on the day this passes Congress, no one has been able to explain how this will have any impact at all on those of us serving in uniform,” Choi said. “Unfortunately, we have been handed an imperfect, 11th-hour compromise.”

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.