Since Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach first went public as a potential victim of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, he’s made it clear that he’d been private with his gender preference, not telling anyone in his unit. The only thing he’d say was that he was that his 18 years of exemplary service were interrupted by a “civilian acquaintance,” so I had to wonder what in the world could’ve happened.
Yesterday the Idaho Statesman shared the situation and it’s worse than I could’ve imagined.
Fehrenbach, stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base, was in a Catch-22. To clear himself of the claim he’d raped a man, Fehrenbach could tell police his side of the story. But admitting he’d had consensual sex could get him kicked out of the Air Force he loved after 18 years.
Fehrenbach asked Detective Mark Vucinich whether his employer had a right to see his statement. Yes, replied Vucinich.
Fehrenbach then told the detective he had sex with Cameron Shaner on May 12, 2008. He’d met Shaner, 30, on a gay Web site and invited him to his southeast Boise home.
Fehrenbach was soon cleared by police and the Ada County prosecutor’s office. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations subsequently found no violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. AFOSI concluded that Fehrenbach and Shaner had consensual sex, and that Shaner was an “unreliable source of information.”
But the Air Force wasn’t done: Fehrenbach’s admission he’d had gay sex was a violation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Reporter Dan Popkey goes on to tell how Cameron Shaner changed his lie several times, falsely claimed to be an informant for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and made false allegations of “HIV parties.”
Lt. Col. Fehrenbach faced a double persecution, first when Cameron Shaner falsely accused him of rape, then when the US Air Force decided that defending himself was grounds for firing. No straight soldier would be subjected to this. It wouldn’t be dreamt of.
This has to stop. President Obama agrees that it has to stop. Defense Secretary Gates agrees that it has to stop. Congressional leaders agree that it has to stop. The only thing in our way is the unwillingness to spend political capital on ending a discriminatory, shameful, Un-American law.