MEET JENE NEWSOME…. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” pending in Congress, can’t come quickly enough. But in the interim, there are steps policymakers can take to at least make the existing system — which is already inherently unfair and discriminatory — function in a slightly less ridiculous way.
About a month ago, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it’s time for DADT to go, Gates hinted an interim step, preceding a full repeal. Gates told senators that the Pentagon can enforce the status quo “in a fairer manner” until the repeal is complete, suggesting that the Pentagon will likely be disinclined to discharge servicemen and women who are “outed” by third parties or jilted partners.
In other words, if a serviceman or woman really doesn’t “tell,” then there’s no reason for him or her to be stripped of their uniform.
Jene Newsome, for example, knew the rules. A lesbian and a sargeant in the Air Force, she assumed that if she kept her sexual orientation to herself, she could continue to serve. And yet, while the military didn’t ask, and she didn’t tell, Newsome has nevertheless been kicked out.
…Newsome was discharged earlier this year under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law after Rapid City, S.D., police officers saw an Iowa marriage license in her home and told the Ellsworth Air Force Base.
The police were at Newsome’s home in November with an arrest warrant for her partner, who was wanted on theft charges in Alaska.
According to the AP piece, police officers looking for Newsome’s wife “spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window” and “alerted the base.”
Newsome and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a complaint against the police department.
In the meantime, Congress, please do what President Obama, Gates, Mullen, Colin Powell, and 75% of the American people want you to do: end the DADT nonsense once and for all.