The Air Force has discharged a lesbian Sergeant who followed the military's "don't ask don't tell" rules when she was reported by off-base police.
Jene Newsome understood the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and she followed it without a problem. The 1993 policy does not discriminate against gays and lesbians in the military, it only asks that they keep it quiet.
For Newsome the military found out from the Rapid City police department, when they saw a marriage license from Iowa, Iowa is one of the states that allows same-sex marriages. The police then reported their sighting to the the Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Jene Newsome was honorably discharged from the Air Force when they found out. "I played by 'don't ask, don't tell,"' Newsome told The Associated Press.
The Rapid City Police Department in South Dakota went to Newsome's home to serve an arrest warrant on her partner. They claimed that Newsome would not cooperate when they arrived at her home. Newsome was not willing to leave work to help the police find her partner. They claimed to have seen the license through the kitchen window on the table. The two women had been married a month earlier, in October of 2009. It was then that they reported their findings to base.
Chief of Police, Steve Allender, issued a statement saying, "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. It was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information."
Newsome and the ACLU of South Dakota filed a complaint in February citing that the police department had no reason to tell the military. Newsome contends that she didn't know where in the house the license was, and she feels that the police were retaliating for her not being willing to help them.
According to Robert Doody, executive director of the ACLU South Dakota, "This information was intentionally turned over because of 'don't ask, don't tell' and to out Jene so that she would lose her military status." The ACLU is focusing its complaint on the police department, not the military, and Newsome said she and her attorney have not yet decided on whether to file a lawsuit. Doody continued, "The 'don't ask, don't tell' piece is important and critical to this, but also it's a police misconduct case."
Since 1994, 13,500 service members have been discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Roughly 80% of those come from servicemen and women who out themselves.