Lesbian Discharged From Military After Police Tell Her Orientation

Jene Newsome, an Air Force sergeant who kept her sexual orientation private and the American Civil Liberties Union claim South Dakota police officers violated her privacy by “outing” her to the military.

The 28-year-old’s honorable discharge under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy came only after police officers in Rapid City, S.D., saw an Iowa marriage certificate in her home and told the nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Newsome and the ACLU filed a complaint against the western South Dakota police department, claiming the officers violated her privacy when they informed the military about her sexual orientation. The case also highlights concerns over the ability of third parties to “out” service members, especially as the Pentagon has started reviewing the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.

“I played by ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” Newsome told The Associated Press by telephone.

“I just don’t agree with what the Rapid City police department did. … They violated a lot of internal policies on their end, and I feel like my privacy was violated.”

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has come under renewed debate after Defense Secretary Robert Gates called for a sweeping internal study on the law earlier this year.

As the review is under way, officials were also expected to suggest ways to relax enforcement that may include minimizing cases of third-party outings. In particular, Gates has suggested that the military might not have to expel someone whose sexual orientation was revealed by a third-party out of vindictiveness or suspect motives.

The Rapid City Police Department says Newsome, an aircraft armament system craftsman who spent nine years in the Air Force, was not cooperative when they showed up at her home in November with an arrest warrant for her partner, who was wanted on theft charges in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Newsome was at work at the base at the time and refused to immediately come home and assist the officers in finding her partner, whom she married in Iowa — where gay marriage is legal — in October.

Police officers, who said they spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window of Newsome’s home, alerted the base, police Chief Steve Allender said in a statement sent to the AP. The license was relevant to the investigation because it showed both the relationship and residency of the two women, he said. (Source)

Advertisements