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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

White House police closes Lafayette Park due to DADT protesters, kicks out media

(Photo credit- GetEQUAL website)

Video below is of police around the White House closing off Lafayette Park to reporters and the general public because a handful of gay Veterans handcuffed themselves to the White House fence in protest of DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell) policy.

Ben Smith from The Politico reports:

People who have covered the White House for years tell me that's an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.

A reporter can be seen in the YouTube video above calling the move "outrageous" and "ridiculous."

As an update, Smith also reports the police eventually let the press back in.

When protests against Bush were held over Iraq, I didn't see police refusing to allow reporters access, just one change since the Obama administration took over.

GetEQUAL sent out a press release regarding this protest which states:

Moments ago, Lt. Dan Choi along with other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) discharged veterans — Capt. Jim Pietrangelo II, Petty Officer Larry Whitt, Petty Officer Autumn Sandeen, Cadet Mara Boyd, and Cpl. Evelyn Thomas — handcuffed themselves to the White House gates to demand that President Obama keep his promise to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year. The vets are concerned about mounting signs that the President is wavering on his promise to push for repeal this year.

Today’s action comes one month after Choi and Pietrangelo were arrested for a similar DADT protest at the White House in which they handcuffed themselves to the gates for a period of an hour, while hundreds of protesters looked on. The new LGBT activist group, GetEQUAL, coordinated both today’s action, and last month’s civil disobedience.

This makes two days in a row that GetEqual has made the news, the first being members heckling Obama at his appearance with Barbara Boxer, whom is is attempting to help in her bid for re-election as a California Senator.

Video here... in the 2nd minute and again in the 5th minute of video, hecklers annoy Obama.

Reactions from the gay community show their outrage over recent events:

AmericaBlog gay:

So the question remains: Did the Obama White House censor the media today in order to try to kill a story about Don't Ask Don't Tell? It looks as though they did. By the time the reporters were finally let in, security had already taken 3 of the handcuffed vets away. Mission accomplished.

Oh, and someone raised the question in the comments as to whether the White House or the police did this. Same thing. We know from the last protest that the White House is intimately aware of what is taking place. There is simply no way that they weren't in the loop on what was done to the media today. And in any case, when reporters are forced to leave the Obama White House, forced to stop covering a political event, the Obama White House is responsible, period.

Pam's House Blend:

In a move that suggests the White House is feeling the heat on its slow-motion approach toward repealing DADT, it's now resorted to trying to stop press coverage of direct actions.

No Quarter:

WOW. This is just difficult to believe, even from Obama. I knew he was no friend to our community, and is he ever proving it.


There is no excuse for this

For the record, it was Bill Clinton that created this mess to begin with, albeit his good intentions.

The Clinton Administration on December 21, 1993 issued Department of Defense Directive 1304.26, which while following the letter of Congress's restrictions attempted to soften them by focusing on homosexual "conduct" rather than sexual orientation, and stating that military applicants are not to be asked what their sexual orientation is. This is the policy now known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".