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.