Dan Choi Explains 'Why I Cannot Stay Quiet'

PHOTO Dan Choi

A West Point graduate who is being discharged from the National Guard because of "homosexual conduct" has appealed directly to President Obama to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay soldiers.

Click HERE to read the Department of Defense Policy Guidelines on Homosexual Conduct in the Armed Forces.

In a letter to the president, Lt. Dan Choi said the discharge letter, dated April 23, 2009, was "a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

"My subordinates know I'm gay. They don't care," he said. "They are professional.

"As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging. But I beg you today: Do not fire me," Choi wrote.

Choi, 28, who majored in Arabic language at West Point, announced he is gay during an appearance March 19 on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

Soon after, the army made plans to fire him, saying he had "negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard."

Choi said he was disappointed and angry, and it took him only 30 minutes after receiving the letter to decide: "I'm fighting this."

Despite the professional consequences, Choi said he doesn't regret his decision to come out. He said it's his platoon that's being punished, not him.

"I got fired because I was being too honest," he said. "That has nothing to do with performance or going to war. I'm angry, not for myself, I'm ready for all the consequences. I'm really angry because my unit is so professional. ... They are the ones being punished. They are losing a member of their team."

Bob Maginnis, a senior strategist with the U.S. Army who helped craft the law 10 USC 654 that bans homosexual conduct in the military, opposes a repeal of DADT.

"[Choi's] command did what they had to do under the statute and regulations," Maginnis said, who added that he doesn't think there's enough momentum for Choi's strategy to have any effect on the law.

"You have people that are throwing themselves on the mercy of public sympathy to persuade Congress to change direction, but if you want to rescind the law you need both houses to rescind it and then get the president to agree. I'm not sure we have sufficient votes to rescind the law," Maginnis said. "This is not one of the more important issues, frankly. It has little consequence to effectiveness of the organizations. A few hundred people a year isn't of any significance."

'How Can I Lie and Keep Quiet'

Choi told ABCNews.com that, until now, he had never confided about his sexuality to anyone in the army. He stayed silent for nearly 10 years.

"I have never, ever done anything homosexual while on duty and I never engaged in heterosexual conduct while on duty because the army is not about sexual anything," he said. "I had never had a boyfriend or girlfriend because of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.'"

But in 2008, Choi said he found the man he describes as his first love, and that relationship spurred his decision to come out.

Difficulties of Staying in the Closet

"It has been one of the greatest things. I grew as a person. You know, you have the support. You have the encouragement to be a better solider. You have someone to share your very difficult times with," he said. "I was able to experience that and how can I lie and keep quiet because it's so good."

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