Trial of gay US soldier Dan Choi put on hold

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The federal trial of a gay soldier who chained himself to the White House fence to protest over the gay military ban has been put on hold.

Reports say that former Army lieutenant Dan Choi may be closer to having the charges against him dismissed.

The former soldier, who was dismissed two years ago after coming out on television, chained himself to the fence of the White House last November.

He has been on trial in Washington DC since Monday, on a charge of failing to obey police orders to move along.

Yesterday, Magistrate Judge John M Facciola put the trial on hold and said that he believes Choi has shown he has been treated differently because he is gay.

The Iraq veteran’s lawyer, Robert Feldman, told Associated Press earlier this week: “They want him to go away. He is the gay man who is finally attracting the attention.”

Mr Feldman told the news agency yesterday that he believes his client has “effectively won the case”.

Judge Facciola has put the case on hold for ten days, while Angela George, a lawyer for the government, says she will have the judge’s actions reviews.

Choi could face up to six months in jail and a fine, if convicted. Such offences are usually tried at a local court, leading to fines of up to $1,000.

He held similar protests in April and March of last year but prosecutors dismissed the charges against him.

Twelve other protesters present at the November demonstration accepted deals to plead guilty at federal court in order to avoid jail time.

The ban is due to be lifted at the end of this month, after a lengthy repeal process.