Statement from the Public Policy Team
Metropolitan Community Churches
For Immediate Release: 28 March 2013
METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCHES
STANDS WITH LT. DAN CHOI
AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Today, March 28, the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches proudly stands with our friend and colleague in the fight for equality, Lt. Dan Choi. He defended himself in a unique criminal trial at the federal level regarding an act of peaceful protest, as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.
Lt. Choi has been an advocate for justice and human rights at great personal and professional cost along the way.
At the heart of Lt. Choi’s case was one of our basic rights in the United States: freedom of speech. Lt. Choi stood accused of “failure to obey a lawful order” by the U.S. Park Police for protesting in front of the White House, and was found guilty and fined.
Protesting in front of the White House has long been a public square space for free speech and assembly. On the day of his arrest, Lt Choi and 13 others were peacefully protesting against a homophobic military policy, “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell,” which has since been repealed.
According to a previous statement by Peter Tatchell , an advocate for Lt Choi:
“Generally, White House protestors are arrested and required to pay a $100 fine to a municipal court, the equivalent of a parking ticket in the District of Columbia. Instead, in this case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is invoking a seldom-used federal level criminal charge called ‘Failure to Obey.’ Choi’s case is the first time since anti-Iraq war protester Cindy Sheehan was prosecuted, that a protestor has been tried federally for demonstrating at the White House.”
We give thanks today that some modicum of civility prevailed and that while found guilty, Lt. Choi did not receive the kind of unusual and harsh punishment that the Attorney General’s office sought.
“I am proud of Lt. Choi” said Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, Chief Programming Minister at Sunshine Cathedral and former member of the U.S. Navy. “Dan has stood as an example of what it means to serve his country proudly and with distinction. I am personally touched by his witness and conviction to stand for what he believes in, a better and just society for all.”
Today we offer this prayer, taken from the Book for Worship for the U.S. Forces, for Lt. Choi and all who serve and have served faithfully in the armed services: “Lord, make us instruments of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy; for thy mercy and for thy truth’s sake. Amen.”
This statement prepared in conjunction with the Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches,
The Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin, Member, The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair.
For more information:
Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt
MCC Public Policy Team