AF Sargent Pays the Price After Police Play Peeping Tom

Tonight we have news of another vindictive third party outing to force a gay person out of the military. This time, it’s an arm of the government doing the outing. And it’s Air Force Sgt. Jené Newsome who was punished for being a lesbian.

AF Sgt. Jené Newsome
AF Sgt. Jené Newsome
The Rapid City Police Department says Newsome, an aircraft armament system craftsman who spent nine years in the Air Force, was not cooperative when they showed up at her home in November with an arrest warrant for her partner, who was wanted on theft charges in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Newsome was at work at the base at the time and refused to immediately come home and assist the officers in finding her partner, whom she married in Iowa — where gay marriage is legal — in October.

Police officers, who said they spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window of Newsome’s home, alerted the base, police Chief Steve Allender said in a statement sent to the AP. The license was relevant to the investigation because it showed both the relationship and residency of 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 license, or not document the license, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it,” Allender said Saturday. “It was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information.”

He said his department does not seek to expose gay military personnel or investigate the sexuality of Rapid City residents.

Allender said the department was finishing its internal investigation and has determined the officers acted appropriately. They have not been placed on leave during the investigation.

Newsome’s partner is currently out on bail on one felony and three misdemeanor counts of theft stemming from an incident last year, court officials in Fairbanks said. More information was not immediately available, and Newsome said she didn’t know the status of the case and didn’t provide more details about it.

In the complaint filed last month with the department, ACLU South Dakota said police had no legal reason to tell the military Newsome was a lesbian and that officers knew if they did, it would jeopardize her military career.

Newsome, who was discharged in January, said she didn’t know where the marriage license was in her home when police came to her house on Nov. 20 and claims the officers were retaliating because she wouldn’t help with her partner’s arrest.

“This information was intentionally turned over because of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and to out Jené so that she would lose her military status,” said Robert Doody, executive director of ACLU South Dakota. The ACLU is focusing its complaint on the police department, not the military, and Newsome said she and her attorney have not yet decided on whether to file a lawsuit.

“The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ piece is important and critical to this, but also it’s a police misconduct case,” Doody said.

Because of DOMA, the federal government does not recognize marriage between two people of the same gender. Even if it’s SOP to inform the Air Force when a servicemember’s spouse is charged with a crime (which I’m told is the case), the US Armed Services only recognize the federal definition of marriage, not the Iowa definition.

Therefore, for the purposes of the federal government, Sgt. Newsome has no spouse.

The local police department was not bound to notify anyone of Sgt. Newsome’s non-spouse, and in fact violated her privacy by vindictively submitting evidence that they found by peeking through her window for a witch hunt because they were mad at her.

Here’s a link to the Rapid City Police Department’s Twitter account. You know, in case you want to tell them what you think.

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