BREAKING: 6 activists chained to White House fence in protest of 'don't ask, don't tell'

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According to GetEQUAL’s Twitter feed, six activists including Lt. Dan Choi have chained themselves to the White House fence today in protest of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here’s a photo. Stay tuned for updates. This marks the second time Choi has chained himself to the fence. On March 18, Choi and another outed military officer, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo were arrested. Choi and Pietrangelo were scheduled to go to trial April 26 for failure to obey a lawful order.

11:45 a.m. Central Time, UPDATE: According to GetEQUAL, the six activists are Choi, Pietrangelo, Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cadet Mara Boyd and Cpl. Evelyn Thomas.

11:50 a.m., UPDATE: According to AmericaBLOG, the White House has closed Lafayette Park to stop the media from covering the protest. The activists are still chained to the fence. Here’s a photo:

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12:03 p.m., UPDATE: After the jump, the press release from GetEQUAL, including bios of the activists. One of them, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, reportedly grew up in Texas.

12:12 p.m., UPDATE: All six of the protesters have been removed from the fence and taken away in a paddy wagon. The Huffington Post has a full report. Here’s an excerpt:

“We were here over 30 days ago demanding that the president add repeal language into the Defense Authorization bill,” said Robin McGehee, the co-founder of the organization. “He has not shown leadership to do that as of this time… [And] we don’t believe that you need to be delaying the service members who are suffering under this policy any longer.”

Asked whether Monday and Tuesday’s protest was a harbinger of things to come, McGehee, replied: “Absolutely. In our opinion we need equality all across the United States for all LGBT Americans. Service members are one group of people who are treated unjustly, but there are people who suffer…”

“At our national dinner he said: ‘Pressure me,’” she added. “We’re here to do it, That’s what we’re here to do.”

—  John Wright

Lt. Dan Choi to speak at Texas A&M tonight

Lt. Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi, who’s quickly become the face of the battle to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” will speak tonight at Texas A&M University in College Station. From the student newspaper The Battalion:

Lowell Kane, program coordinator of the campus GLBT Resource Center, said each year they try to find a widely known keynote speaker to focus on a serious issue or hot topic.

“I can’t think of any hotter topic than the DADT [“Don’t ask, don’t tell”] policy,” Kane said. “We want to seek out the face, the person who really represents this conversation and there is no bigger, more famous activist today than Lt. Dan Choi.”

Choi graduated from West Point Military Academy as one of eight soldiers in his graduating class majoring in Arabic. He then served as an Arab linguist in the Iraq War.

On March 19, 2009 Choi announced he was gay on The Rachel Maddow Show, and discharge proceedings began within the month.

In his presentation, Choi will tell his personal story, discuss the effect of the policy on GLBT individuals in the military and answer questions from the audience.

“He has gone on the record saying he is willing to lose everything, the career he has built for himself, because he is not going to lie about who he is and everything he learned at West Point and through the military tells him he shouldn’t lie about who he is,” Kane said. “Given Texas A&M’s military history and our current status with the Corps, it’s a really interesting conversation to have here.”

Interestingly, the story about Choi’s visit isn’t the only gay-related item on the front page of today’s Battalion. A centerpiece under the headline “Broken Traditions” focuses on how LGBT students in “Closet Station” face discrimination and feel left out of Aggie rites like Midnight Yell. In hindsight, perhaps they could have combined the two articles under one headline: “Don’t ask, don’t yell.”

—  John Wright