June 16, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
NETROOTS: Choi slams Obama volunteer for lack of support for marriage equality

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.”

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

10 Comments
  • Good for Dan. Don’t take any crap, especially not from some pathetic Obamabot. You fail, try again Obot.

  • Choi is a great grandstander, especially with his 15 minutes of fame nearing its end.

  • Somebody please tell loud mouth Dan to join the military again and be quiet. I’m spool tired of this media whore.

  • Dan Choi’s detractors are caught up in a petty backwater snit about the guy’s tact (or lack thereof) in tearing up the flyer, while the big issue remains that OFA’s opposed stance on marriage equality is a policy position befitting only imbeciles. Sending that kid up to get his face stuffed with confetti only reinforces this unfortunate observation.

  • Boy, I’m kind of torn on this one. I totally understand the frustration of many in the gay community with Obama’s stated (possible operative word) position on gay marriage, because I, as a gay man, am not pleased with his stated position either. Having said that, though, politics makes for some unpleasant realities, and I can’t help but wonder if Obama in his heart believes that gays should be able to get married but won’t say so yet because the harm that doing so could do to his bid for re-election. I don’t pretend to have any answers, but at this point, though he has pissed me off several times (and not just on gay issues) I’d rather keep the Obama that we have (the one who got DADT repealed and who HAS in other ways been kind to our community), and see some–or maybe even much more? (he would be freer in his final term to say what he really thinks, if he indeed feels differently than his stated position)–advancement of our cause, than take the Unknown Republican who would most likely be our enemy.

  • Choi made his mark by lobbying for the repeal of DADT, so now that it’s on the road to extinction, we can expect to see him reenlist, right?

    …Or, now that he’s making $7500 an appearance, is he going to find a new activism cash cow to hitch his wagon to?

    I’m betting that as soon as DADT is officially repealed, he’s going to reveal a long-term “boyfriend” that he’s kept hidden away (or whatever the story from his PR handlers is) and he’s going to jump on the marriage bandwagon–making more appearances for even higher speaking fees. I just can’t see him going back in the service–not when he’s gotten a healthy dose of media attention and inflated speaking fees. We made a media monster out of him and he’ll be looking for his next fix.

    Seriously, how long are we going to support shysters like him with our time, attention, and money?

  • Dude is an idiot…….We have never had access to the President or staff and all of this madness? FED UP sure but you should have been fed up years ago. I seriously wonder if this was the same thing with Hillary would all of this be going on? I don’t think so regardless of what happens there are many in this community who just don’t plain and simple have any respect for Pres Obama. But don’t worry keep bichin. Because maybe you’ll appreciate Romney because I know I won’t!

  • Dan Choi: “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.”

    Fair enough Dan. Since love comes in harsh forms, I’m glad that you got your butt kicked in Russia. You deserved it, since you were a guest in their country and you dissed your hosts. I love you Dan and like you said, sir, love comes in harsh forms.

  • Mr. Choi has some growing up to do! In point of fact, Obama has been doing the right thing. Step one for national marriage equality is to get rid of DOMA which will restore “full faith and credit.” Obama played this perfectly in both timing and actions.

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