Local Cops Out Lesbian Soldier: Is Bigotry to Blame? Or Spite?

DADT:
Over the weekend, lesbian Jene Newsome was discharged from the military when the local police “turned her in” to her superiors. Police were looking for her wife in connection with an unrelated crime, and when they came across the Iowa marriage license with both women’s names, they called Newsome’s Air Force superiors and reported her sexual orientation without her knowledge or permission. She was dishonorably discharged immediately.

We already know that women and especially black lesbians, like Newsome, are disproportionately affected by Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and now we know that you don’t even have to “tell” to be subjected to it. Newsome was doing everything she was supposed to – she served bravely and well, and kept her sexual orientation a secret from everyone she worked with just like the military’s policy required her to, but she’s being punished nonetheless. Newsome and the ACLU have filed a complaint against the South Dakota police department for the invasion of privacy. (@hiphopwired)

The police chief says, “”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.”

Really? Was the Air Force like calling them every day asking if they knew any gay people in the area who might be adequate to discharge? An “internal investigation” assured no wrong was done, but this seems sketchy as fuck. (@pinknewsuk)

Top Legal Blogger Jonathan Turley suggests this was motivated by spite: “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. fficers, 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.”[ Oh I dunno, maybe she would've been more cooperative if she hadn't been TRYING TO KEEP HER SEXUAL ORIENTATION A SECRET.]

Some Sidenotes:

In April 2009, Police Chief Steve Allender and the City was sued by former Police Detective Glenferd “Glen” Yellow Robe for discrimination: In the 25-page sworn complaint, Yellow Robe accuses Allender of repeatedly making racist and derogatory comments about Native Americans, Hispanics, women and other minorities. The complaint lists numerous statements that Allender allegedly made to Yellow Robe and others in the department, which Yellow Robe says created a “racially hostile workplace.” The suit was later dismissed against the police officers for technical reasons, and we can’t find any more info on it than that.

In “MILITARY TRASH, NEGROES, INJUNS, MESSICANS AND QUEERS, RAPID CITY HATES EM’ ALL,” Gordon Duff recounts Rapid City’s storied history of discrimination.

The Huffington post also has a piece about discrimination against Native Americans in Rapid City and in Fairbanks, Alaska, where the investigated theft had taken place.  Native Americans have even sued Rapid City’s school department for racial discrimination. This article discusses how racism is nothing new in Rapid City.

Also, just for funsies, The Rapid City Police Department has a facebook page, where a discussion of the “recent controversy” has been apparently censored.

DISCRIMINATION:
After a thorough experimentation, it’s been determined that J. Crew’s 5th Avenue retailer has decided not to hire transgender employees. After sending in pairs of applicants – with every variable matching except for transgender status – and comparing their treatment and probability of getting hired, it looks like J. Crew has a 42 percent net rate of discrimination for transgender job applicants. “…one of the transgender employment testers, Julian Brolaski, applied at the 5th Avenue J. Crew store and “was treated brusquely, told to fill out an application and was never called. His testing partner, Leigh Cambre, who entered the store a few minutes later, described a very different experience, ‘I filled out an application, was interviewed on the spot and offered a job soon after.’ A separate pair of testers documented a similar situation.” Shockingly, (or maybe not shockingly at all,) 49 percent of transgender workers surveyed reported that they had never been offered a job in the time that they have lived openly as transgender. (@gothamist)

ST. PATRICK’S DAY:
In Boston, which I will say (admittedly with a bias)  has hands-down the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country, GLBT Irish and Irish-Americans are still excluded from the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie. As late as 1992 there were incidences of ’bottle and rock-throwing attacks’ against a gay Irish-American group. @baywindows)

ELTON:
A 65-year-old Atlanta man made a youtube video of himself standing outside Elton John’s apartment with a sign that says “ELTON JOHN MUST DIE,” and stated that “‘What Elton John has done is desecrate the image of the Lord Jesus Christ,” presumably in response to Elton’s suggestion a few weeks ago that Jesus was a gay man. He also said other completely bizarre things, like “If John, 62, was a Muslim, he would have a death sentence on him.” Clearly this (@metro)

STUDENT ANTI-DISCRIMINATION:
The media controversy over Constance McMillen and her girlfriend is bringing attention to Jared Polis’s Student Anti-Discrimination Act. (@kdvr)

BLOOD:
The FDA has agreed to “re-examine” the policy that no man who’s ever had sex with a man can give blood. Whether or not this statement actually means anything is debatable. (@queerty)

NEW HAMPSHIRE:
There’s been talk for a while now of voting to put an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment up in New Hampshire, and at first things didn’t look good when the first set of towns voted for it. But as the issue progresses, it’s becoming clear that marriage is probably going to be just fine in New Hampshire. 40% of towns didn’t even have the amendment up for a vote at their town hall meetings, meaning that there weren’t even enough people who cared that they were able to put together a petition. 15 towns that had anti-equality legislation have amended them, either to make them meaningless or turn them into pro-equality statements. Overall, 77% of New Hampshire towns rejected the anti-equality amendment. It’s heartening, because for once voter referendums on marriage are working the way they should – the people who aren’t affected by them are opting to stay out of the whole process. As Lurleen says at Pam’s House Blend, this is an example for the entire country. (@pamshouseblend)

HATECRIME:
Three Bay Area men charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting men whom they perceived to be gay on San Francisco streets had videotaped multiple attacks, law enforcement officials said Friday. ” (@theadvocate)

WAGE GAP:
The Paycheck Fairness Act has been passed by the House of Representatives and, if passed by the Senate, would work to close some of the loopholes in the Equal Pay Act and decrease the outrageous pay discrimination that women in the US experience, particularly women of color. “During the hearing, Committee Chair, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), said in his statement: “This wage gap exists in every segment of our society. Women of every race and national origin earn less than their counterparts. An African-American woman earns 69 cents for every dollar that a white male earns, while a Latino woman receives only 59 cents for every dollar a white man earns. These differences add up to real hardships for working women and their families.” (@msmagazine)

TEACHER:
“A Bronx charter school is under fire from parents who say a teacher bullied kids — and even forced one child to tell his crush, a girl, that he was gay. According to court papers filed this week, the teacher, Jared Alessandroni, 29, threatened to “out” a straight 9-year-old boy, James Pastrana, to his class at the South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and the Arts, unless James told his crush he was gay. “I was so humiliated,” said Pastrana, who reluctantly scribbled the false confession in a note to the girl. “It started to spread around the whole class and then everyone wanted to call me gay.” This is so reprehensible it makes the actions of the Itawamba County school look humanitarian. (Not really. But almost.) (@nypost)

STEWART:
Jon Stewart goes to bat for our team against the Virginia Attorney General who wants gay anti-discrimination protections removed from VA colleges. “You can’t be gay in college? That’s the whole point of going to college.” (@thebilericoproject)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Gaywatch – Virginia Edition
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Reform

ATLANTA RAID:
A judge has ruled that the bar patrons arrested and assaulted by police in the Atlanta bar raid in September were not in fact breaking the law. “Municipal Judge Crystal Gaines said city police failed to produce evidence proving that men danced naked without permits or that the bar operators were running an unlicensed adult establishment,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.” (@365gay)

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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21 Comments

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    this whole discharging thing with jene newsome is so sad! a girl in my school’s qsu talked about dadt the other week and said a lot of people in the air force are discharged because so many of them work at desks and so they have nothing better to do than go around being mean and outing people. she actually said lots of things that i didn’t know. holla, megan!

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    If ever proof were needed that DADT is a vicious, ugly, pernicious, and utterly disgusting policy — and if ever proof were needed that some of our “finest” are complicit in its enforcement, without regard for the personal consequences this may have for those who are unfortunate enough to be trapped in its web — this episode represents such proof, and represents it in spades.

    Jene Newsome did absolutely nothing wrong. She did not “out” hersef; to the contrary, she was violated by a law enforcement agency, which appears to have based its actions on a combination of malice, bigotry, and spite.

    The Air Force has shown itself to be repugnant in its behavior, and the South Dakota Police Department has done itself, and other police departments nationwide, a massive disservice by revealing itself to be morally bankrupt institution, more intent on violating the privacy of law-abiding citizens than interested in the legitimate investigation of criminal behavior.

    It is my sincere hope that Newsome files suit against the Police Department — and that the Department be made to pay dearly for its inability to act within its mandate.

    It is also my sincere hope that this incident will add fuel to the movement to scrap the DADT policy as a grotesque invasion of privacy, utterly inconsistent with the stated goals of enhancing morale and unit cohesion. It is difficult to understand how any policy which encourages lies, deceit, and hiding could possibly be worthy of the interests of a supposedly great nation.

    PHILIP CHANDLER

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    Does anyone else smell bullshit in the statement that the cops “proceeded to peer into the home through the windows and spotted a marriage license from Iowa on the kitchen table”? I don’t know, that just seems really oddly convenient to me. And could someone please explain to me how when the policy is Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell, and you don’t ask or tell, that you can still be TOLD ON? So it’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, DO SNITCH. OH MY GOD OBAMA GET ON THIS ISH

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      That search and their actions were against proper protocall. The fact that the “internal investigation” decided that no wrongdoing was done is evidence that the internal organization is corrupt. From everything I’ve read about how the Rapid City police treat their Native American citizens, I’m hoping the best that can come out of this is someone shedding some light on what’s happening there with police having so little regard for the people they are supposed to protect. Seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine how they treated Jene when they invaded her place of work to ask her where her ‘friend’ was hiding.

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    also i would like to share with everyone the genius of margaret cho on this issue:
    -
    “How are you gonna fight a war without lesbians? WHO’S GONNA READ THE MAP.”

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    >Canceled Mississippi prom brings new attention to Polis’s bill<

    For every kid who's being called a dyke or fag or is jacked into a locker or punched in the gut on a daily basis because another kid doesn't like the fact that they are gay or just thinks that they are gay (important point here – just the allegations of being gay) this needs to happen. SOON. And for every kid who's ever been…

    …and Constance's prom, a big symbolic gesture, yes, this too, but mostly the harrassment, the bullying — and the pain and the anguish caused by it. Let's institutionalize the right of students to go to school without assuming they're going to get beaten up that day or called names without having recourse. Please and thank you.

    Also: WTF, Jared Alessandroni?!! You are a coward!

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    Newsome was doing everything she was supposed to – she served bravely and well, and kept her sexual orientation a secret from everyone she worked with just like the military’s policy required her to, but she’s being punished nonetheless.

    Well, no.

    As a military male, I’m probably in hostile territory here. But I just wanted you to know that entering into a gay marriage is considered to be the exact same thing as an admission of homosexuality, and a violation of DADT. That’s part of every briefing the military gives on the subject. A marriage license is an official document issued by a public official.

    Whether the police were right to tell the military about it, that’s another matter. I don’t know. But it was only a matter of time – the AF was going to find out eventually.

    Incidentally, I support lifting DADT, but my reasons are probably very different from most everyone else here:
    http://www.shieldofachilles.net/2010/02/dont-ask-dont-tell-is-on-way-out.html

  7. Pingback: Video Game Tester Jobs | Video Game World

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