Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was not the only one ejected from the House chamber during the president's State of the Union address for wearing the wrong T-shirt. Republican Rep. Bill Young's wife, Beverly, was also told to leave by Capitol police for wearing a shirt that read "Support the Troops: Defending Our Freedom."
Today Young, the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, decried the incident on the House floor, saying, "shame, shame," and holding up the shirt his wife had been wearing.
Young later told reporters he agreed with the rule prohibiting demonstrations in the Capitol but said he doesn't think wearing a T-shirt constitutes a demonstration. His wife regularly goes to visit wounded soldiers at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, he said, and she "wears this T-shirt or something like it everywhere she goes," adding that she was "insulted" and "embarrassed" by what happened.
He also noted that no one complained about the shirt when she went through security and that she wasn't actually asked to leave until some 45 minutes of the speech had elapsed.
Sheehan, who attended the speech as a guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., was arrested and charged with demonstrating within the Capitol, a misdemeanor. She was wearing a T-shirt that read "2245 Dead: How Many More?"
On ABC's "Good Morning America," Sheehan described what happened: "This man was yelling at me, 'Protester, you have to get out of here,'" she said. "They grabbed me out of my seat and put my arms behind me and rushed me out and handcuffed me. I thought that was a little excessive for wearing a T-shirt."
Young emphasized that he did not know the circumstances that led to Sheehan's arrest. But he added: "If she was just sitting there wearing a shirt then she should not have been kicked out."
He also said he called both White House adviser Karl Rove and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, along with Capitol police Chief Terrence Gainer, to complain.
Capitol police have requested that the U.S. attorney's office drop the charges against Sheehan.
"As the department reviewed the incident, it was determined that while officers acted in a manner consistent with the rules of decorum enforced by the department in the House Gallery for years, neither Mrs. Sheehan's manner of dress or initial conduct warranted law enforcement intervention," said Gainer in a statement today.