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Lesbian air force sergeant discharged after police tell of her sexuality

PinkNews Staff Writer March 15, 2010
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A lesbian sergeant in the US air force was discharged after police told her superiors about her sexual orientation.

Jene Newsome, 28, did not violate the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on gay soldiers keeping their sexual orientation secret.

But she was outed by police officers who spotted her Iowa marriage certificate when searching for her wife in November.

Ms Newsome, a Rapid City, South Dakota, resident, was discharged in January.

Officers had visited her home seeking her wife, who was facing theft charges for an incident last year in Alaska.

They saw her marriage certificate lying on the kitchen table through a window and informed staff at Ellsworth Air Force Base, where Ms Newsome worked.

She and the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota have filed a complaint, saying the officers violated her privacy. They are considering whether to file a lawsuit against the police department.

Ms Newsome told Associated Press: “I played by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

“I just don’t agree with what the Rapid City police department did. … They violated a lot of internal polices on their end, and I feel like my privacy was violated.”

She also accused them of retaliating against her and said they knew she would be fired.

The Rapid City Police Department argues that Ms Newsome did not cooperate with them and refused to immediately return home from the base to look for her wife.

Police chief Steve Allender said that the marriage licence was relevant because it demonstrated the relationship between the two women.

He said: “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 licence, or not document the licence, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it.”

An internal investigation found the police had not acted improperly when alerting the military to Ms Newsome’s sexual orientation.

The military gay ban is currently under review.

Related topics: Americas

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