WASHINGTON — Gay rights activists briefly handcuffed themselves to the White House's north gate on Monday, urging President Barack Obama to repeal a ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military.
Thirteen demonstrators organized by the GetEQUAL campaign for gay rights -- including nine veterans, a Catholic priest and other advocates -- were arrested after shouting they were "proud to serve" and vowing: "We will not disappear."
"Today, we have sent a loud and clear message to the US Senate and President Obama that we expect them to make good on their promises to end this inhumane law this year, during the lame-duck session of Congress," GetEQUAL co-founder and director Robin McGehee said in a statement.
She was among those arrested.
The protest came ahead of the Pentagon's Internal Review into the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, due on December 1.
According to The Washington Post, the long-awaited report, which included a survey of troops, found that the United States could lift the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces with little risk to current war efforts.
The White House is pushing for repeal of the 1993 law this year in a lame duck session of Congress before a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives is sworn in next year.
On Friday, the US Supreme Court kept the ban intact as lower courts review the issue after a federal appeals court stayed another court's injunction of the policy.
"I sincerely pray our country's elected leaders in Congress and the White House will have the courage to repeal this law and make this the last time I have to come back to this fence and be arrested in protest of a law in direct contrast with our values and beliefs as Americans," said former staff sergeant Miriam Ben-Shalom, who was discharged in 1976 for declaring and admitting she was a lesbian.
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