Compared to partners of other same-sex relationships, black women from same-sex households are more likely to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute’s 2004 report, “Black Same-Sex Households in the United States.” They are also being discharged from the military at a higher rate than other groups.
Black lesbians constitute less than one percent of all U.S. servicemembers, yet they are 3.3 percent of all servicemembers discharged under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, the1993 law banning open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans and forcing out more than 13,500 LGB patriots since 1994.
Despite these atrocious facts, black women in same-sex households continue to serve in the military.
The statistics, unfortunately, played out for African-American Air Force Sgt. Jene Newsome, who was recently discharged by the military after local police officials “turned her in” to Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Newsome refused to speak to law enforcement, who were tracking down her wife in connection to theft charges in Alaska. Police went to Newsome’s home, peeked into the windows and saw an Iowa marriage license. In what seems like nothing more than sheer retaliation, police informed Newsome’s superiors of the relationship. Newsome received a dishonorable discharge.
Military personnel were forced to follow the law, despite the fact Newsome was honorably serving her country, and following DADT by keeping quiet. In the process of the police’s actions and military’s discharge, Newsome’s right to privacy was violated and she was victimized by what seems like childish and petty police vindictiveness.
Blacks are significantly disadvantaged in term of wealth, income, health and other measures. Newsome’s entire livelihood is now being thrust into poverty because she was outed. She has lost her career, benefits, her earning power, ability to save money, support her family, and prepare for retirement – simply because she is lesbian.
DADT needs to be repealed now!