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I Hereby Command You… (but Will I Defend You?)

July 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

Lt Dan ChoiThe Uniform Code of Military Justice applies to members of the armed forces.  The Code sets out the laws that each member of the services is bound to follow.  It enumerates offenses and punishments much like the Penal Code does for non-military citizens, and includes Article 92, which criminalizes the failure to obey an order or regulation.

Often, commanders issue general orders to those in their command.  The person receiving the order must carry it out.  If they do not carry out the order, they could then be charged under the Article 92 provisions and would be subject to court-martial.

Sub Chapter X. Punitive Article


Any person subject to this chapter who–

(1) violates or fails to obey any lawful general order or regulation; [emphasis added]

(2) having knowledge of any other lawful order issued by any member of the armed forces, which it is his duty to obey, fails to obey the order; or

(3) is derelict in the performance of his duties;

shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

“I was only following orders.”  We’ve historically heard that argument so often that we’ve almost become immune to it.  From Nazi Germany to Abu Ghraib, soldiers have heralded the defense for all sorts of atrocious acts of human rights violations.  Even Hollywood has adopted the defense for some of their greatest hits, like A Few Good Men.

On June 1, 2009, President Barack Obama, the Commander and Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, issued a proclamation declaring June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.  The proclamation outlined laws and inequities suffered by LGBT people, including a call for “ending the existing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.”

Twenty-eight days after that statement, on June 29, 2009, the President reiterated his support for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy:

And finally, I want to say a word about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’  As I said before — I’ll say it again — I believe ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t contribute to our national security.  In fact, I believe preventing patriotic Americans from serving their country weakens our national security.  Now, my administration is already working with the Pentagon and members of the House and the Senate on how we’ll go about ending this policy, which will require an act of Congress.

On October, 10, 2009, the Commander of the United States Armed Forces, Barack Obama, issued his “order.”

If we are honest with ourselves we’ll admit that there are too many who do not yet know in their lives or feel in their hearts the urgency of this struggle. That’s why I continue to speak about the importance of equality for LGBT families — and not just in front of gay audiences. That’s why Michelle and I have invited LGBT families to the White House to participate in events like the Easter Egg Roll — because we want to send a message. And that’s why it’s so important that you continue to speak out, that you continue to set an example, that you continue to pressure leaders — including me — and to make the case all across America.

Captain James Pietrangelo and Lt. Dan Choi heard the order of the President and acted by chaining themselves to the fence in front of the White House.  For “following orders” they were arrested.  Now, as the two prepare to confront the criminal charges at trial, the President’s testimony has become relevant in their defense.  They have issued a subpoena for the President to appear and testify; however, service of the subpoena on the President was not made as guards at the White House refused the process server entry.

Attorneys for Pietrangelo and Choi issued a memo explaining the rational for the subpoena:

[Pietrangelo and Choi] seek to compel the testimony of President Barack Obama who has, on several occasions as President and Commander in Chief (and previously as a Senator and Presidential Candidate) called on the LGBT community to “pressure” him to change the DADT law and policy, thus allowing gay servicemembers to serve their country openly and honorably.

The subpoena of the President is necessary for the defense to prove that Defendants were following and obeying lawful orders or directives by their President and Commander in Chief, and were therefore under an obligation and authority to act as they did in order to pressure him – in a non-violent, visible way – on this important public issue. In addition, these statements support the contention that Defendants were acting out of necessity, in order to prevent discrimination and greater harm to gay servicemembers now serving.

Obviously, there are problems with a subpoena issued to a sitting president and, generally, presidents have not complied with or have made other arrangements to testify when a subpoena is issued for their appearance.  It is highly unlikely that, even if served, Obama would be subject to the subpoena.  However, regardless of your feelings toward the “gay rights movement” or more direct action type activism such as that employed by Pietrangelo and Choi, you must admit that it was a pretty smart maneuver and an interesting use of the “following orders” defense.

VIDEO: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Protests Interrupt Obama Fundraising – Dan Choi and Others in Chains Again

April 20, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

GetEQUAL activists interrupted President Barack Obama during a speech designed to raise funds for California Senator Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign.  The group shouted for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the U.S. Military’s policy prohibiting openly gay soldiers from serving this country.

President Obama attempted to regain control of the speech and stay on topic, by acknowledging the group, then returning to endorsements for Senator Boxer.  Early on during the interruption, Obama states:

I don’t know why you have to holler, we already hear you.

Thereafter, Obama continually advises the group that he supports the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, but again reiterates his inquiry:

Barbara and I are supportive of a repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, so I don’t know why you are hollering.

But support doesn’t equate to action, and therein lies the problem.

In what is becoming typical fashion for GetEQUAL organizers, bicoastal events were held.  The day after the group interrupted Obama in Los Angeles, Dan Choi, Autumn Sandeen and 4 others chained themselves to the the gates of the White House [photo by David Mailloux of dymsum]:

Repeal DADT GetEQUAL: Protestors outside of the White House

CNN has some video footage of the chained veterans available here.

Army Secretary McHugh’s Big Fat April Fool’s Joke on the Gay Community.

April 01, 2010 By: jaysays Category: DADT, Featured

"We Will Not Be Silent." Don't Ask Don't Tell ("DADT")When reports hit the blogosphere that Army Secretary, John McHugh, was ceasing prosecutions under the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, there were more questions than answers.  But before our minds could fully wrap themselves around the implications, Secretary McHugh backtracked, stating that:

With regard to the three soldiers who shared their views and thoughts with me on ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’, I might better have counseled them that statements about their sexual orientation could not be treated as confidential and could result in their separation under the law. [emphasis added]

That’s right, Secretary McHugh totally pulled a take-backsy. Roughly translated, McHugh acknowledges that they will still fire military members from their employment, based solely on that person’s sexual orientation – talk about a need for an inclusive “Employer Non-Discrimination Act!” Further, McHugh likely realized the potential backlash from conservative America should he decide not to prosecute homosexuals.

Secretary McHugh needs to learn the rules of April Fool’s jokes – you can’t just outright lie about something until 12:00 midnight on April 1st.  If you do, your April Fool’s joke is invalid.  So, if I have this right, Secretary McHugh’s take-backsy is void and his earlier statements about a moratorium on DADT remain in full force and effect.

As far reaching as that argument may seem, it’s still as rational as the arguments by opponent’s of a repeal on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell who claim that, based upon their interpretation of words translated by politicians (i.e. King James), and according to their imaginary friend in the sky, gay is bad and should therefore be prosecuted.