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Who You Love Shouldn't Matter When You Serve

Robert Doody,
ACLU of South Dakota
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March 15, 2010

Jene Newsome served nine years in the Air Force. She was recently discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy after she was outed by South Dakota’s Rapid City Police Department.

On November 20, 2009, the Rapid City Police Department came to serve a warrant on Jene Newsome’s wife. Jene and her wife, Cheryl, were just married in Iowa a few weeks before the police came knocking on their door.

When the police entered the house, they saw the marriage certificate sitting on the kitchen table. The marriage certificate didn’t have anything to do with Cheryl’s arrest; one of the officers just saw it as an opportunity to out Jene and end her career. The two police officers were busy discussing the relevancy of the marriage license…one good cop and one bad cop. One police officer knew that this shouldn’t be an issue, but one officer wanted to put it in his report to send to the Air Force knowing this would out Jene under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, policy.

Too bad the bad cop won out and four days after Chery’s arrest, the Rapid City Police Department sent an “FYI” fax over to the United States Air Force telling them that Jene Newsome was married to a woman. Jene wasn’t involved in the arrest, she wasn’t charged with a crime, and she didn’t do anything wrong. She tried her best to live by the absurd policy established by Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She didn’t tell anyone, and no one asked her about who she loved. Jene was in the clear until one bad officer decided he wanted to out her.

The United State lost a dedicated Air Force member who had served this country honorably for nine years and was planning on doing so for the next 12 years. Today, America is a little less safe and a little less free because one bad cop decided it was his business to out a dedicated Air Force member.

You can help: Contact the Rapid City Council and tell them we want justice for Jene. And find out the latest news and advocacy for Jene by becoming a fan of the “Justice for Jene” Facebook page.

Who you love shouldn’t matter when you serve.

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