Lt. Dan Choi was watching Obama’s State of the Union speech on TV from his home in New York City, his emotions a roller coaster. If anyone was anxious about what Obama would say about repealing "don't ask, don't tell," it was Choi, who was discharged from the military earlier this year for being gay. He's one of some 60,000 estimated gays in the military and, after Obama's speech, is not as thrilled as he was hoping to be.
"When I first heard he was making it a priority to put this in the speech, my heart jumped," Choi said, speaking directly after the State of the Union. But Obama wasn't making any mention of it, and only finally did, deep into the speech when talking about civil rights. "I was so excited, but then he said he was going to 'work with Congress.' With everything Congress is failing to do? I took on a lot of impatience when I heard that." Choi is calling for people who disagree with "don't ask, don't tell" to sign a petition by Monday. He hopes the number of signatures will encourage Obama to act immediately.
While many progressives were skeptical about what Obama would say, Choi was on the edge of his seat. "I had thought, I’m going to keep my job, I will keep my job this year." Instead, hearing Obama would "work with Congress" and do it "this year" deflated Choi. "I was hoping he might have come in with an executive order, already signed. He addressed all these other issues as commander in chief—national security, Haiti, jobs," says Choi, who is also a West Point graduate and Arabic linguist. "Obama could have talked about this issue in every single one of those paragraphs. He could have simply said, 'No gay soldier is going to lose their job this year.' "