don't tell hell

How Did Police Retaliate Against Sgt. Jene Newsome? By Outing Her to the Air Foce, Which Swiftly Kicked Her Out

Sgt. Jene Newsome is a nine-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. There, she worked as an aircraft armament system craftswoman. That is until police entered her home in Rapid City, S.D., to find her wife Cheryl Hutson, wanted on theft charges in Alaska. And when Newsome refused to cooperate with locating Hutson — by rushing home when the police reached her at the Air Force base — the police alerted her officers that they found an Iowa marriage license, issued in October, identifying the pair as wife and wife. Indeed, Newsome was honorably discharged under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Except, uh, she didn’t tell anyone.

Half of the entire premise of DADT is that gay soldiers not reveal their sexuality to the military. Newsome did not do this. The Rapid City Police Department, in its November investigation, did. And while the ACLU helps Newsome sort out whether the cops violated Newsome’s privacy rights by releasing her marital status to her employer, let’s recognize the situation for what it is: A disgusting example of how DADT doesn’t just discriminate, but actively harms the safety of America.

Newsome, as a private citizen, did not jump to help the police locate her girlfriend (who is now out on bail and faces felony theft charges). That’s a matter between she and the police, with the Air Force completely immaterial. But the cops insist they always notify the military when one of its personnel is involved in an investigation (which Newsome wasn’t). “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,” says police chief Steve Allender, who’s held the post since 2007. “It was a part of the case, part of the report, and the Air Force was privileged to the information.”

Not according to Newsome, who maintains the police used the marriage license as leverage to try to force her to cooperate — or else.

If that’s true, it’s despicable. But more despicable is that a gay marriage license can even be used as leverage by police against a gay American who happens to honorably serve and protect this country. And more despicable than that? That the Air Force would agree, and let a third party out Newsome and then fire her under a discriminatory law. Newsome abides by the rules for nine years, and because she wasn’t terribly forthcoming in an investigation against her own wife, this nation has lost yet another trained service member.

The situation can only be rectified in this way: Allow Newsome to re-enlist with the Air Force and return to the same position, with the same salary and benefits; reprimand the police officers who used a person’s sexuality and celebration of her relationship as a means to extort information; and have the Rapid City Police publicly apologize to Newsome. Oh, and one other little matter: Repeal DADT so shit like this isn’t even possible.

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  • EWE

    Cops conducting a witch hunt as usual. They should be FIRED!

  • tjr101

    Talk about government intrusion in one’s private lives. I’m sure these cops identify with conservatism and the whole premise of individualism and personal liberties except when it suits them. Her privacy was violated.

    This is clear vindictiveness on the part of the police department and I hope Sgt. Jene Newsome sues the shit out of them!

  • Flex

    This reality that we live in is pathetic. We must sue in court for our rights, and challenge every organization, in federal court, that exploits discriminatory laws to use as weapons against us.

    The SD cops exploited the discriminatory laws of DADT to get Ms. Newsome fired, and then the Air Force went against the DADT rules. It fired her, based on her sexuality, and Ms. Newsome didn’t tell anyone in the military about her sexuality. It is crystal clear that the military punishing it’s members based exclusively on their sexual orientation.

    We need federal sexual orientation protection immediately. We must sue in federal court for it. The federal congress will never grant us this essential legal protection. We are not important enough to them!

    Sue in court now!

  • Michael @

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE correct the errors in your narrative in order to help prevent someone else suffering from the ignorance of Sgt. Newsome about DADT … and that of the Associated Press which seems to have something factually wrong in virtually every story it runs about DADT.

    The abuse by the police is heinous but beside the larger point.

    Sgt. Newsome was NOT “following the rules.”

    1. “Don’t tell” means don’t tell ANYONE…NOT just the military. And “telling” means communicating in ANY way that you are gay….from your fellow soldier to someone you might be attracted to all the way to your parents. An honest description would be “gays are allowed to serve as long as they have always been and remain virgins and NO ONE knows they are gay but themselves.”

    2. Sgt. Newsome violated DADT by outing herself to another woman, then violated it a second time by marrying that woman. It seemed pretty silly in 1993, but the Troglodytes knew marriage equality was just a matter of time, so added marrying or even attempting to marry someone of the same sex. Though, again, just letting the other person know you are gay is enough.

    3. There is rampant misunderstanding in the gay community about third-party outings. They ARE permitted by DADT because they’re seen as a “product” of “telling” which, again, DADT forbids you’re doing to ANYONE. The “saw through the window” claim is pretty absurd, but how one sees evidence that someone is gay is irrelevant to the military.

    IF one’s commander CHOOSES to believe whatever “evidence” they’re given, in the terms of the implementing regulations, “credible information,” he/she can then start an investigation toward discharge proceedings.

    That can THEN “ask” you if the information is correct. Some commanders choose to look the other way regardless, as probably would have happened in Victor Fehrenbach’s case had the bizzaro guy he had sex with not been so determined to see him discharged [he first accused VF of rape]. One can refuse to answer but if there’s enough smoke you will be fired.


    Secretary of DEFENSE OF DADT Robert Gates MAY put greater limits on third-party outings but that is a small band-aid on a policy based entirely on homohatred and ignorance while the bleeding of countless others continues while he trys to run out the clock on actual repeal until midterm elections make it legislatively impossible for years to come.

    Note: I am NOT defending DADT, nor saying that one should put his or herself in verbal, sexual, or romantic stasis for the entire period of his/her service. I’m simply saying if you understand what the rules are you are less likely to get caught.

  • Darren Hutchinson

    Michael: This is nonsense.

    “Don’t tell” means don’t tell ANYONE…NOT just the military. And “telling” means communicating in ANY way that you are gay….from your fellow soldier to someone you might be attracted to all the way to your parents. An honest description would be “gays are allowed to serve as long as they have always been and remain virgins and NO ONE knows they are gay but themselves.”

  • Michael @

    @ Flex:

    As I noted above, the Air Force was NOT violating DADT so Sgt. Newsome has no grounds to sue them for it.

    However, there are at least two suits against DADT [after several others failed].

    One is the case of discharged Air Force Reserve flight nurse, Margaret Witt who was outed by a third party. There are mixed signals about whether the Obama DOJ is going to fight it as they said last September they would.

    A District Court judge last November threw out the Obama DOJ’s effort to stop the constitutional challenge in “Log Cabin Republicans vs. The United States of America.” Again, we will have to see if they continue their policy of FALSELY CLAIMING they have to defend DADT in court even as Obama says it’s unjust.

  • Michael @

    Allowed exceptions to not “telling”: one’s attorney and a security clearance investigator. The latter protection came directly from an Executive Order by President Clinton.

  • EWE

    @Michael @ There is no reason to jump through this maze of bureaucratic crap to accomodate a policy that really says “don’t exist at all”. Flex is right. Keep it in the courts. Choke the life out of our corrupt judicial system by flooding it with discrimination lawsuits.

  • Michael @

    @ EWE: “Choke the life out of our corrupt judicial system by flooding it with discrimination lawsuits.”????

    Courts aren’t like highways that one can simply clog with large numbers of the same kind of cases. And you obviously don’t know relevant history. The first attempt to overturn the ban in court was THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago [DADT is simply the old ban with a formal name and some slight tweaking]. That court ordered the Air Force to readmit Leonard Matlovich if he chose but did NOT overturn the ban itself. There has barely been a day over those three and a half decades when some other lawsuit challenging the ban hasn’t been ongoing; each one falling after the other.

    You do approach some truth, but the “corruption” in our judicial system relative here is a much broader moral and constitutional one unlike, say, judges taking bribes.

    Moral in that many judges ruling on legal challenges to the ban [or other LGBT rights issues] have allowed their personal bigotry to color their rulings.

    Constitutional in that the final rulings in ALL the cases, save for the two ongoing cases above, while allowing a small handful of gay servicemembers to remain in or be reinstated into the military for reasons other than unconstitutionality, have declared that “unique military needs” trump Constitutional rights.

    Until enough judges on the Supreme Court are not guilty of one or both of those biases the ban will never be overturned via lawsuit.

  • EWE

    @Michael @ Nothing except expense is stopping one from suing the federal government. You just said it yourself. “Until enough judges on the Supreme court are not guilty of one or both of those biases the ban will never be overturned via lawsuit”. That does not mean a record should not be left. After all you are quoting so much of history on this blog. We need to keep adding to it.

  • EWE

    @Michael @ sorry, i know you mean to be levelheaded. I am just saying there are countless ways to address this. Are openly bisexual men getting canned from the military as bisexual? What is the difference between them sucking dick and a gay man sucking dick? Lets be blunt about what this is and not dance around it. It is about behavior. We all know it and we should look for EVERY avenue possible to address the hypocrisy. If one can perform the same sexual acts and not be gay then why should they be allowed to serve or not serve as bisexual men or women? One example there. Just one. There are many.

  • Michael @

    I’m not disputing we shouldn’t attack DADT as often and in every way as possible.

    What I’m saying, with respect, is that you don’t understand the legal system. Just because one has the money and will to sue someone doesn’t mean that the court will agree to hear that suit at all or not immediately rule that your justification hasn’t already been addressed and ruled on by previous courts so they see no reason to revisit it.

    Further, even were there not those legal system obstacles, less than ONE PERCENT of those discharged are willing to go public with their stories in ANY way, let alone sue, and one must have a plaintiff affected by the law TO sue.

    Some 440 were discharged last year. Only got any kind of media attention, and chose not to sue. The discharges of Fehrenbach and Dan Choi are still pending. Fehrenbach MIGHT be saved by the tentative ruling in the Witt case as the recommendation he be discharged occured in the 9th Circuit post their ruling that the Air Force had to prove Witt’s disrupting unit cohesion. He could attempt to get an injunction barring his discharge based on that, and Dan, while in another Circuit, could attempt the same for that and/or other reasons.

    But the fact remains that the nature of the court system and human nature prevents any large scale judicial attack as you imagined.

  • EWE

    @Michael @ Whatever the court rules goes on record. Let them dismiss it. I never said it would be successful. As far as plaintiffs available that are effected goes, i can only ask where are our bisexual allies who can stand up and say that they are not gay and they have done the same thing behaviorally? Then it becomes an issue of destroying people for the way they feel about themselves emotionally. Principles don’t always include victory.

  • EWE

    @Michael @ And thank you for your posts. You are very knowledgeable and i appreciate the information.

  • Jonesy

    This story makes me so mad and so upset. Never mind the economic drain on the US military losing someone in which they invested NINE years of training, the emotional drain on her subordinates and colleagues losing a valued member of an integral team or the sheer absurdity of DADT. This proud serving member of the military has lost her job and is going to inherit a whole lot of relationship issues based on some ludicrous revenge by some petty police officer. It really makes me spit blood…

  • ousslander

    If she’s willing help hide a fugitive what else is she willing to do?

  • DR

    While I agree on priciple that this is wrong, what about harboring a felon? Hindering apprehension? How does that reconcile with her military standing. If the facts are correct and she deliberately hindered apprehension of her wife, she is NOT going to garner a lot of sympathy in terms of DADT.



    When one marries it IS public information. I hope thats clear. Why she assumed no one will find out is anyone’s guess. I have not seen the details of the report the police filed but i doubt they did it to kick her in then nutbag or vajayjay. She is harbouring a criminal and she failed to be supportive. That is the main story. Im sure the police reported her lack of cooperation to the airforce as they rightly should have in their report. I mean if they are investigating someone in a relationship with a serviceman and it appears the so called serviceman might be cooperating with the alleged criminal..why the fuck shouldnt they report it???? Of course they have to say in what capacity the alleged criminal has a relationship with the said serviceman…and guess what? They are married. Two ladies. Implies gay lifestyle. Gay lifestyle implies out on your ass from the military.

    Blame DADT not the police. Blame the fact that though everyone plus Saddam wants it repealed the White House is not doing a damn thing about. ACLU should save all that cash for the senators. The police did not do anything wrong.

  • Hilda`

    Do you wonder why law-abiding people do not co-operate with them police…”Maybe it’s because the cops as such dumbos!” Why can’t they mind their own business ans do police work instead of prying into innocent people’s personal life? The police chief Allender is a real # 1 JERK and he shouild be fire along with those idiots that divulged personal information.

  • B

    No. 20 · Hilda: “The police chief Allender is a real # 1 JERK and he shouild be fire along with those idiots that divulged personal information.”

    …. don’t jump to conclusions about the police chief – while he could be a jerk, he pretty much can’t admit that the police department screwed up, assuming it did, given the possibility of a lawsuit, and his subordinates may have misled him by saying they released the information to follow normal procedures rather than releasing it out of spite or to extort information from a person.

    If they normally inform an employer that they were trying to arrest an employee’s spouse (perhaps in case the spouse drops by work for a visit so the employer would know to call the police), that would presumably be based on the assumption that there is no reason to hide a marriage, which is certainly true for straight couples. I doubt if anyone in the department thought of the implications, given DADT and how new same-sex marriages are, of releasing such information to the U.S. military unless that situation came up before. Also, the person who sent the report to the Air Force may have had no interaction with the officer talking to the suspect’s wife, and could have been just mindlessly processing paperwork. We’ll find out what the actual situation was once the lawyers start an process called “discovery”.

    One question that was not answered (or even asked): if a straight couple was in a similar situation, would they expect a wife to help the police catch her husband?

  • $0.02

    @ #16 say that again when it’s someone you love…

  • DR


    I’ve seen parents arrested in front of their kids in open court. But yeah, as a general rule, you’re expected to co-operate with official investigations unless you want to be charged with Hindering or Obstructing. Seen those laws applied to spouses, kids, parents….

  • MMW

    Everyone must inform the military of their maritial status. There are many legal documents that must be filed out truthfully by all service members. What makes you think that don’t ask don’t tell means the military? It means don’t tell yopur peers. Military Retired over 23. Wake up people.

  • MMW

    This is not true. The Military must be informed about each service members marital status, dependents. Don’t ask don’t tell ,means do not tell your peers. the Military works under the privacy act brainsurgeons. They must know everything about you.Retired Military.

  • ChristopherS

    She is not a private citizen if in the military. Also it appears she did not fight her discharge. If your knowingly involved in colusion of criminal activity you can be discharged. The Airforce was nice to her in giving her an honorable discharge. They could have givn her a general under honorable instead. Being in for nine years also would have given her addtional money for leaving. Her discharge could also be appealed and the Airforce reserve component could let her reinlist. She got off easy for the conveanance of the armed forces.

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