This month has been one of my more momentous. Last week was, of course, my birthday, and the usual shenanigans ensued. I got a sunburn at the local nude beach (cuz who doesn't like a breeze around their nether regions) and had drinks at the local 80s night with my friends, which was really a ton of fun. This week, I got to fly out to DC and appear in court as part of the case ensuing from my arrest last November at the White House.
This court date has been the culmination of hours of conference calls, months of waiting, and reams of e-mails sent between the defendants and the legal team representing us to the judiciary. Finally having had our day in court, we all breathed a sigh of relief and knew we could move on with our lives, our careers, and the many projects all of us work on.
Who was involved?
The defendants were as follows:
1. Dan Choi, our "celebrity" and discharged Army Lieutenant. He very publicly came out on Rachel Maddow several years back and has stayed in the limelight ever since.
2. Mara Boyd, a discharged ROTC cadet.
3. Autumn Sandeen, a Navy veteran and trans activist. She also contributes to Pam's House Blend.
4. Scott Wooledge, contributor to the DailyKos and all-around nice guy.
5. Robin McGehee, GetEQUAL amazemom activist. You know you've heard of her, she's everywhere
social justice requires.
6. Dan Fotou, GetEQUAL organizer and master of the art of snark.
7. Miriam Ben Shalom, ex-drill sergeant and powerful Wisconsin-based activist. I call her my Jewish mommy.
8. Michael Bedwell, former associate of Leonard Matlovich and outspoken critic of the Administration's failings with regard to LGBT rights.
9. Rob Smith, NY-based former Army Specialist and full-time cutie pie. Yeah. I said it.
10. Evelyn Thomas, former Marine corporal and powerful public speaker.
11. Father Geoff Farrow, former Chaplain and defrocked priest. He made the news a few years ago during the Prop 8 campaign of hate by stating his support for gay marriage from the pulpit.
12. Justin Elzie, former Marine sergeant and popular author.
13. Yours truly.
We were represented by two lawyers and had an unusual case at the behest of the government: instead of being tried separately, our cases were "wired," meaning we were to be tried as a group instead of individually. This resulted in complicated negotiations with the government for months prior to hour hearing. Several of our number did not want a conviction on their records, so we negotiated a plea deal which would dismiss our case entirely in September as long as we were not arrested for the next four months.
Dan Choi, ever pushing the envelope, filed a motion to sever, meaning that he would no longer be wired to our cases. He is opting to go to trial. We wished him luck but all entered a plea of "guilty," promising to keep our noses clean for the next four months.
Whether we will or not remains to be seen. One of our number is committed enough to say that she intends to participate in arrestable action anyway, and I don't blame her. I myself am not sure if, given the opportunity to make a statement about the causes I believe in, I would turn down an arrestable action. Would I face jail time? Possibly. In doing so, I would be in good company. Do you think Nelson Mandela would have balked in fighting for social justice? Clearly not, and I haven't yet decided if I will either. That remains to be seen.
However, one thing is sure: getting arrested with these people was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I consider them all family. As we parted, several of us promised that once that four months was over, it was "GAME ON." I meant it.
See you guys in September. I'll bring the handcuffs this time.
Ian Awesome is writing this from Washington, DC and has crossposted this article to his column on Hivster.