This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates throughout the day. See updates below.
At 2:00 PM, right on schedule, thirteen GetEQUAL activists chained themselves to the White House’s fence to protest “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to demand the Senate vote to repeal the unconstitutional law.
Via GetEQUAL’s press release:
The 13 veterans and repeal advocates arrested today include:
* Five veterans (Lt. Dan Choi, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cpl. Evelyn Thomas, and Cadet Mara Boyd) who were arrested back in March during the GetEQUAL organized “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act of civil disobedience at the White House fence demanding President Obama show leadership on repeal.
* Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of GetEQUAL, and Dan Fotou, action strategist for GetEQUAL.
* Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 for declaring and admitting she was a lesbian. She became the first-ever LGBT servicemember reinstated to her position in the U.S. Military, by a U.S. Federal District Court. On July 30th, 1993, Miriam and 26 other protesters were arrested at the White House fence for protesting then-President Bill Clinton’s broken promise to repeal the gay ban – instead signing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” bill into law.
* Former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Justin Elzie who, in 1993, became the first Marine ever investigated and discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. Elzie was also the first soldier to be discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to fight his discharge and win – resulting in his service as a Marine for four years as an openly gay man.
* Former U.S. Army Arabic Linguist Ian Finkenbinder, who was discharged from the Army in December 2004 after announcing to his superiors that he was gay. Finkenbinder is an Iraq war veteran and was about to return for a second tour of duty when he was discharged.
* U.S. Army Veteran and Repeal Advocate Rob Smith, who was deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait before being honorably discharged after deciding not to re-enlist in the U.S. Army due to the added pressure of living under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
* Father Geoff Farrow, a Catholic priest who spoke out against the church’s official stance in support of California’s Proposition 8, removing the rights of same-sex couples to marry. Because of his courageous stance against Prop 8, Father Geoff Farrow was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest.
* Scott Wooledge, a New York-based LGBT civil rights advocate and blogger who has written extensively on the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at Daily Kos and Pam’s House Blend.
* Michael Bedwell, long-time LGBT civil rights advocate, close friend of Leonard Matlovich, and administrator of the site www.leonardmatlovich.com.
2:27: PM: Joe Sudbay at AmericaBlog has photos.
2:39 PM: GetEQUAL reports via Facebook, “Police gave first warning – we will not be moved!! Shouting, “WE WILL NOT BE MOVED!”
3:05 PM: Robin McGehee, others, reportedly taken off fence and into custody.
3:14 PM: Reports coming that all protestors have now been removed from the fence. Stay tuned for more details.
3:20: Following photos courtesy of Brad Luna
3:25: Video of Lt.Dan Choi, other activists:
Image at top: Chris Geidner.
Also, visit Talk About Equality for more photos.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.