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VOICES

Photos and Video of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Activists Chained to White House Fence

Today, a relatively quiet afternoon at the White House park was interrupted by the stirring voices of a dozen GetEQUAL activists cheering on the six individuals handcuffed to the White House fence. The veterans, discharged for being gay, lesbian, or transgender, included Lt. Dan Choi, Capt. Jim Pietrangelo II, Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Petty Office Autumn Sandeen, Cadet Mara Boyd, and Corporal Evelyn Thomas.

In a statement from GetEQUAL, Choi explains the circumstances of the protest. “We are handcuffing ourselves to the White House gates once again to demand that President Obama show leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ If the president were serious about keeping his promise to repeal this year, he would put the repeal language in his Defense Authorization budget,” he says. Both Choi and Pietrangello were arrested for a similar action last month.

GetEQUAL activists, recognized for their aggressive tactics, have grown increasingly vocal against what they say is President Barack Obama's tepid support for repealing "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT), a policy that prohibits members of the LGBTQ community from openly serving in the military.  

Yesterday evening, GetEQUAL activists received criticism for interrupting Obama's speech to California donors at an event intended to raise money for the Democratic National Committee and the party's sitting Senator, Barbara Boxer. Obama strayed from his remarks to suggest that the activists were misdirecting their frustration, a view rejected by GetEQUAL volunteers present at today’s protest.

In a conversation with Campus Progress, GetEQUAL volunteer Linda Sanders says she was tired of being asked to wait.  "It wasn't long ago," she remarks "that Barack Obama himself and his family were illegal—were not allowed certain positions or even an education…"  

Natasha Dillon, another GetEQUAL volunteer, cut Sanders off when she initiated a round of passionate chanting "I am somebody.  We deserve, full equality." Their voices were strained and angry—proud and yet inherently tragic.

Minutes later, police removed the protesters from the White House fence, ushering them into a large white van. As they were lead away, a group of GetEQUAL activists bid them goodbye with a more cutting sentiment, one that places this debate into context. “Thank you for your service, you deserve better.”

GetEQUAL tweeted this afternoon that those who were arrested today would be arraigned at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the D.C. Superior Court. The men and woman in uniform who participated in today's protester are not criminals, but individuals who have served their country. Certainly, they deserve better.


Sanders, a former Department of Defense civilian contractor, explains why her service was abruptly ended.


Kip Williams chants "shame on you Barack Obama" as the discharged veterans were removed from the White House fence.


Dillion promises continued action from GetEQUAL.


Dillion and Williams lead the GetEQUAL cheers, "thank you for your service, you deserve better."

With the White House in the background, GetEQUAL lists its demands.

Sara is a Communications and Outreach Associate at Campus Progress.

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