DADT’s Third Party Use And Abuse: The Case Of Jene Newsome
Sgt. Jene Newsome, the nine-year Air Force veteran, was discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell when police in South Dakota investigating her wife’s alleged crimes reported their marriage to Newsome’s commanding officers, via fax, on Nov. 24. Cops say they did it because Newsome was suspected of harboring a fugitive and was “very uncooperative.” Newsome says it was retaliation for refusing to help track down her wife. And now the police department is very, very sorry — but stop saying they did something wrong!
“It’s an emotional issue, and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job, but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the license, or not document the license or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it,” police chief Steve Allender said earlier. “It was a part of the case, part of the report, and the Air Force was privileged to the information.”
In a statement released Friday in conjunction with an internal report on the matter, he’s standing by that conclusion, but hey, the whole thing is regrettable! “There have been public accusations that the detective released the information regarding sexual orientation out of vengeance or for punitive effect. I cannot know what is in the hearts of people or what truly motivates them, but I am very concerned with how emotions, prejudices, political or religious views may affect the decisions made by not only our officers, but all people in government positions.”
Well that should help Newsome sleep well at night. What might also help her sleep? A cool $800,000, which is what Newsome’s attorneys at the ACLU are asking for from Mayor Alan Hanks and the Rapid City city council to compensate Newsome’s financial losses. (The request came a few hours before Chief Allender’s eight-page report.) Oh, and she also wants an apology, and a new police policy instituted barring the police from releasing information about anyone’s sexual orientation.
Which seems like a good enough idea, particularly because Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was enacted to protect gay and lesbian service members who keep quiet about their sexuality — a stupid rule that Newsome was actually following.
For reasons like this one and so many other instances of discrimination on the job, I fully support the repeal of DADT. The policy is terrible for our military and it’s a dark mark on the conscious of one of the most advanced countries in the world. DADT functions under the pretense that gay soldiers are protected as long as they do not out themselves or cause any suspicion with regard to their sexuality. This often requires them to dodge questions relating to their personal life.
American soldiers receive top notch training and are paid to perform their duty with honor and distinction. We do our gay and lesbian service members a huge disservice by making them lie about who they are just so they can serve their country. Morality should never come at a cost, but this is what gay soldiers are subjected to every single day. They must lie to protect and defend our rights and freedoms, some of which they themselves have not yet fully attained.
Jene Newsome did not break the rules. She did not violate ‘don’t ask don’t tell’, the police in South Dakota did that for her. The rule is not only that gays are barred from serving, it’s that the military is restricted from using ‘any means possible’ type measures to reveal or disclose closeted service members. In exchange for this silence, the military cannot ask questions about ones sexual orientation, and gay and lesbian service members are not at liberty to say anything if or when they’re asked.
There have always been gays in the military and there will always be gays in the military. They have always fought for rights and freedoms that not even they fully have, and will continue doing so with pride and honor in service to ones country. The fact that the military listens to and considers third parties when addressing possible DADT violations is disheartening. The worst part is that those who snoop and tell, thus violating the hypocritical policy, go unpunished while brave soldiers are stripped of one of the very fabrics of their lives.
In the words of Lt. Dan Choi and Co. “Hey hey, ho ho, don’t ask don’t tell has got to go!” We”ll continue shouting it from the rooftops to the White House lawn as long as discrimination and masked homophobia are allowed to exist within the confines of these great United States.