June 30, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Activists subpoena Obama in ‘Don’t Ask’ arrest case

Lawyers for gay veterans who chained themselves to the White House fence in protest over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were set on Wednesday to serve President Obama with a subpoena to testify in court, according to a statement from GetEQUAL.

Activists are arguing that Obama should testify on behalf of Army Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. James Pietrangelo II — activists who were arrested on March 18 and April 20 for their acts of civil disobedience — because the president asked the LGBT community to keep pressure on him to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

For chaining themselves to the White House gates, both Choi and Pietrangelo are facing a non-jury trial on July 14 at the D.C. Superior Court on two counts of failure to obey a lawful order.

The Blade couldn’t immediately confirm that a statement was delivered to Obama as outlined in the statement from GetEQUAL.

One such example of Obama asking LGBT people to keep the pressure on him took place last year at the Human Rights Campaign national dinner.

In a keynote speech at the event, Obama told LGBT people in attendance to that “it’s not for me to tell you to be patient” any more than it would for him to urge patience to blacks fighting for civil rights a half-century ago.

“And that’s why it’s so important that you continue to speak out, that you continue to set an example, that you continue to pressure leaders — including me — and to make the case all across America,” Obama said at the time.

According to the GetEQUAL statement, the subpoena is therefore necessary to prove defendants “were following and obeying lawful orders or directives” from Obama and were “under an obligation and authority to act as they did in order to pressure him — in a non-violent, visible way — on this important public issue.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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