US: Gay former solider fined $100 for White House protest

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Former US Army lieutenant Dan Choi, who chained himself to the White House fence in protest over America’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) law, has been fined $100 (£65.80).

Choi believes his actions helped galvanise the political campaign to remove the homophobic law, which banned openly gay members of the armed forces.

He was dismissed from the US Army in 2010 after coming out as gay on the Rachel Maddow TV show.

In November 2010, Choi was arrested after handcuffing himself to the White House fence, along with 12 other gay rights campaigners.

Choi and the other demonstrators were charged with a criminal misdemeanor. The others had previously pleaded guilty, but had their sentences deferred.

A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office said Choi was convicted and fined on Thursday by a judge hearing his case.

His trial began in 2011 but was put on hold during an appeal. He was convicted of failing to obey a lawful order, fined $100, but avoided a prison sentence.

During testimony yesterday, at times Choi, who represented himself, became emotional and angry.

He called as a witness the Reverend CT Vivian, a civil rights movement veteran. Choi later raised his voice at a park police officer, another witness.

“All I want at the end of this day is to return to the US military,” Choi said through tears.

Earlier in the week, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was present for proceedings said Choi had “helped draw public attention to a grave injustice and contributed to it being ended. Dan is a human rights hero.”

DADT was finally repealed in September 2011.