30 under 30: dan choi

Dan Choi
Age: 28
Founding Member, Knights Out

Why he's influential: Because "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is an idiotic policy, and he chose to do something about it. Army First Lieutenant Dan Choi is the voice behind Knights Out, a group of 38 West Point graduates who publicly announced their sexual orientation and offered to serve as liaisons for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the U.S. military's ridiculous Clinton-era policy regarding gay soldiers in its ranks.

Shortly after declaring his sexual orientation while appearing on The Rachel Maddow Show, Choi received notification that he would be discharged from the military. Never mind the fact that he's an upstanding, exceptional solder -- an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic. Apparently, none of these qualifications are relevant.

But when he uttered the words "I am gay," Dan somehow "negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard." I don't know much about the military, but I'm fairly certain that if the soldiers in Dan's infantry unit are worth a damn, they could function perfectly fine before and after his announcement.

Through everything that's unfolded with Knights Out, Dan Choi has emerged as a leader in the gay rights movement. It's obvious that he's a good soldier. But more than that, he's a guy who could not sit quietly while he saw injustice and unfairness perpetuate in the institution he'd put his trust in. Call me crazy, but it seems to me that America could use more guys like Dan Choi.

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

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