Gay Iraq veteran Dan Choi, other activists seek to re-enlist

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

West Point grad Lt. Dan Choi--who famously outed himself on national TV, thereby initiating his ouster from the Army under its gay ban--marched to New York's Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station on Tuesday to re-enlist.

A federal judge recently declared unconstitutional the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay service, then rejected the Obama administration's plea to stay that decision this week. The military has announced that recruiting officers will accept enlistees who are openly gay.

Choi was arrested in April for handcuffing himself to the White House gates in protest of the gay ban.

[Photos: More of Iraq war veteran Dan Choi]

He said Tuesday that the recruiters were processing his request. Watch him try to re-enlist in the video below:

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of the San Diego chapter of the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans, tried to re-enlist with the Marines but was told that prior-service quotas were full right now, according to the New York Times.

A Texas man who had been honorably discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" was turned away by Navy recruiters who said they'd received no instructions on the court injunction, according to the Times. An honorably discharged soldier from Stockton, Calif., was told the same when he tried to re-enlist with the Army, the Associated Press reported -- but Navy recruiters next door let him start the process of joining.

[Photos: 'Don't ask, don't tell' debate heats up]

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the anti-ban Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, urged caution for gay people who want to sign up, reminding them that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals "is likely" to grant the Justice Department a hold on the lower court's decision to strike down the law. (Read The Upshot's explainer on the process here.) "During this interim period of uncertainty, service members must not come out and recruits should use caution if choosing to sign up.  The 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law is rooted in any statement of homosexuality made at anytime and to anyone," Sarvis said in a statement. "A higher court is likely to issue a hold on the injunction by Judge Phillips very soon. The bottom line: if you come out now, it can be used against you in the future by the Pentagon."

Recruiters received new guidelines Friday telling them that they should not ask potential recruits about their sexual orientation, but that they should warn recruits the judge's decision may be reversed, the Department of Defense's Defense Department's internal news service says in a video report.

(Photo of Choi handcuffed outside the White House in April: Getty)

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