Jene Newsome, 28, had succeeded in living under the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy of the Air Force for years despite the fact that she lived with her lesbian partner in Rapid City, South Dakota. However, her nine-year career as an aircraft armament system craftsman came to an end when members of the Rapid City police department outed her as a lesbian in what appears to be an act of raw retaliation. Police Chief Steve Allender has supported his officers’ decision to report Newsome.
When police approached Newsome with an arrest warrant for her partner (who was wanted on theft charges in Fairbanks, Alaska), they found her uncooperative at work at Ellsworth Air Force base. She refused to give them keys to their home. Officers, however, proceeded to peer into the home through the windows and spotted a marriage license from Iowa on the kitchen table. The couple had married in Iowa when same-sex marriage became legal in that state.
She is now suing the police department with the help of the ACLU.
Police Chief Steve Allender stood by his officers and indicated that the officers were compelled to share such information with the Air Force: “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.”
Why? This is not a federal crime. Since when are officers compelled to report matters of potential internal discipline to an employer? If the officers hoped for greater cooperation from the gay community, this is hardly the way to secure it.
Newsome’s partner is now out on bail with one felony and three misdemeanor counts for theft stemming from an incident last year in Fairbanks.
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