When Dan Choi announced in 2009 on “The Rachel Maddow Show” that he is gay and serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was discharged for violating its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Choi, who unsuccessfully appealed his case and is an activist for equality issues, will give a free, public lecture at the University of Alabama at Birmingham during Community Week at 8 pm. Jan. 26, 2012, in Hill University Center, 1400 University Blvd.
Choi, a former American infantry officer, is a West Point graduate who speaks Arabic and served in combat during the Iraqi War. On June 30, 2009, he stood trial for breaking the military’s policy that barred openly gay persons. During his appeal, Choi continued to function in his unit for more than a year.
In October 2009, Choi was a national co-chair of the March on Washington for LGBT Equality. The next year, he was honorably discharged from the military. Choi then wrote a letter to the senate majority leader relinquishing his West Point class ring.
On Dec. 22, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Following that, the senate majority leader returned Choi’s class ring.
Choi, who has been interviewed by national and international media, is on the boards of Marriage Equality USA and the American Foundation for Equal Rights. He is pursuing graduate studies at Harvard University.