MINNEAPOLIS — The activist renowned for chaining himself to White House gates in protest over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” made tongues wag on Thursday for his harsh reaction toward an Obama campaign volunteer over the president’s lack of support for same-sex marriage.
Dan Choi, a gay activist and former Army officer discharged last year under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was approached by an Organizing for America campaign volunteer during a Netroots Nation panel discussion titled, “What to Do When the President is Just Not that Into You.”
Choi and others on the panel — including John Aravosis, the gay editor of AMERICAblog — discussed their frustration with how President Obama hasn’t moved forward on many promises to the LGBT community.
During the question-and-answer portion of the session, Nick Tschida, an Obama campaign volunteer who looked to be either a teenager or in his early twenties, approached the stage and handed Choi and Aravosis campaign material promoting President Obama to the LGBT community. Tschida asked the two for greater support for the president during the 2012 election.
Making his case for Obama, the worker said he couldn’t offer support for same-sex marriage, but noted the president has accomplished other things for the LGBT community. Choi asked the volunteer to clarify that Obama doesn’t marriage equality, to which the worker responded, “No,” and continued to make his case.
At this point, Choi ripped the campaign pamphlet handed to him in two and flung the pieces toward the campaign worker. The volunteer went on to say something about civil unions, then retreated back to the audience.
Upon returning to his seat, the volunteer told those who sat near him, “That didn’t go well.” Another female attendee who was sitting near him said, “I don’t think they understood what you meant.”
Asked afterward by the Washington Blade whether he felt he was too harsh with the campaign volunteer, Choi replied, “Sometimes love comes in harsh forms. I love my detractors enough to let them know when they are misguided and I only regret that we are both suffering under a second-class citizenship imposed by politicians who smile pleasantly while denying our fight for justice. The harshest treatment would be our acquiescence to the view that we do not deserve equality.”