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Clinton Friend Mixner Among 28 Arrested at White House Protest

From Times Staff Writer

Twenty-eight demonstrators, including Los Angeles gay activist David Mixner, were arrested Friday after parading outside the White House to protest President Clinton’s compromise policy on gays in the military.

The protesters were the target of a counterdemonstration by gay activists from the militant organization ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, who have objected that mainstream gay organizations have devoted too much energy to the military issue and not enough to the fight against AIDS.

Mixner, who has been a friend of Clinton’s for many years and was a prominent supporter and fund-raiser during the election campaign, has been on the outs with the White House for months--ever since he publicly criticized the President for abandoning his campaign promise to fully lift the ban on homosexuals serving in the military.

Clinton and some gay rights advocates have described the compromise policy as a major step forward in civil rights for gays. But Mixner and many other gay activists have called Clinton’s “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” proposal a betrayal that requires gays to remain in the closet if they wish to serve in uniform.

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The demonstrators had alerted news organizations that they intended to seek arrest to dramatize their opposition to Clinton’s policy.

The protesters were taken into custody shortly after noon by U.S. Park Police and were charged with demonstrating without a permit, officials said. After routine booking, they were released and each given a citation that carries a $50 fine.

The group included prominent fund-raisers for Clinton: Diane Abbitt, Roberta Bennett and John Duran. Also arrested were three people who worked on Clinton’s California campaign staff: Sky Johnson, Tony Leonhardt and Jeff Matchan.

“I think that the President is well aware of Mr. Mixner’s position on the military decision--gays in the military decision, and I don’t think he has anything further to say,” White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers said. “I think it has been well-documented--Mr. Mixner’s opposition.”

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