Charges Against Gay Activists Dropped

Just after all criminal charges against him were dropped Wednesday, Lt. Dan Choi twittered, "Victory for Truth today!"

Choi, who is being discharged from the military for being openly gay, and Capt. James Pietrangelo were in court today on charges that they had failed to obey police orders in both March and April when they handcuffed themselves to the White House gates in protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military.

But in a quick text to NEWSWEEK shortly after the decision, Choi wrote that the real reason the government had dropped its case was much simpler. "Govt embarrassed. Govt did not want to move fwd."

Choi had subpoenaed President Obama to appear, but an attorney for the prosecution said the subpoena wasn't served, according to the AP, which also reported that the prosecutor declined to comment on why the government dropped the case.

During the first hearing in March, a judge explained to both Choi and Pietrangelo that they could plead guilty and pay a small fine, but both men chose—separately—to plead not guilty and face further proceedings. A month later, this time with additional former service members, they once again chained themselves to the White House gates.

Both men have faced criticism for continued acts of civil disobedience designed to fight the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, including a short hunger strike, as the Obama administration and Congress have recently begun steps toward repealing the 17-year-old ban. Choi has repeatedly told NEWSWEEK that any movement short of full and immediate repeal is welcome, but that without repeal the "injustice" remains in force and he will continue to fight it. (Last week many gay-rights groups widely criticized a Pentagon survey on the repeal that they said was biased and could produce skewed results.)

In his text to NEWSWEEK Choi also wrote that the government's order to "stay away" from the White House had also been lifted. Based on more than a dozen talks with Choi, this reporter expects further civil disobedience from him, and other efforts to draw attention to his singular cause: the full, immediate repeal of DADT.