After nearly two and a half years of trials in different courts, gay rights activist Dan Choi was found guilty for “failing to obey the order of a law enforcement agent,” according to Metro Weekly, a Washington LGBT newspaper.
Choi was arrested on November 15, 2010 when he participated in a demonstration protesting President Barack Obama’s failure, to that point, to enact legislation ending the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) military policy.
Choi, an Iraq war veteran, was discharged from the New York National Guard after coming out in an interview on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program. In the 2010 incident, Choi chained himself to the fence outside the White House and refused an order to “leave the sidewalk,” the court found.
Reporting on the March 28 conviction, the Washington Blade wrote, “Choi was the only one of the 13 people arrested… that did not agree to plead guilty… in exchange for having the case dismissed.”
Though Choi became a national face of gay rights activism during his fight to end DADT, he also struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Iraq.
After undergoing trials in several courts, Choi ended up being found guilty by US Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola. According to various reports, the trial, which lasted more than five hours, saw Choi representing himself in an emotional and sometimes erratic way. While showing a clip from his 2009 appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Choi began to cry. His closing remarks were also scattered and, at 40 minutes, ran overtime.
Facciola’s sentence was a $100 fine. In response, Choi yelled, “I refuse to pay it… Send me to jail.”
The judge ignored that request, but informed Choi he could appeal the decision.
Congress approved a measure repealing DADT just over a month after Choi’s arrest, and the policy officially ended in September 2011.