In a historic protest at the White House moments ago, 13 people were arrested after chaining themselves to the White House fence. Three generations of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell activists participated in this monumental action. Present among the demonstrators were several men and women who’ve been arrested in similar demonstrations over the decades, including the first famous Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell protest in the 90’s, and this year’s subsequent White House DADT protests.
Former Servicemembers who were arrested in April during protests at the same location, spoke to Talk About Equality about why they were returning:
“I feel we have come to a critical juncture where we need leadership from Obama and Senator Reid to get rid of this horrible policy. I am here today because being the first Marine discharged under this policy I feel we need to send a signal to the White House and the Senate to finally do the right thing for LGBT servicemembers and pass the repeal in the Defense Authorization Bill.” Says Justin Elzie, the first Marine discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to Talk About Equality.
Here is the full list of demonstrators who were arrested today:
Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen,Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd. All four were arrested in front of the White house in April protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL.
Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 and was the first LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergean, Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Former Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004.
U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.
Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com
Dan Fotou, an Organizer with GetEqual.
Civil rights activist, writer and speaker David Mixner told LGBTPOV upon the 17th Anniversary of the first DADT White House arrests:
“There was no question among those of us arrested that DADT was a horrible policy. Am extremely proud of doing the right thing then and extremely proud of those doing the right thing today.”
This action culminates one day of advocacy for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. The big push needs to come from all of us in the remaining few weeks of this Congressional calendar. Don’t let these 13 have sacrificed in vain.