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Fired 5 Days Before Retirement Gay Soldier Gets Da


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Fired 5 Days Before Retirement Gay Soldier Gets Day In Court

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: September 6, 2005 11:00 am ET

(Washington) Army Lieutenant Colonel Steve Loomis, who was discharged under 'don't ask, don't tell' in 1997 - just five days before he was to retire - will finally get his day in court.

The U.S. Federal Court of Claims will hear arguments on Sept. 7 in the case on Wednesday.

When Loomis was discharged he lost his Army pension, estimated by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network at about a million dollars.

Loomis, an engineer war plans officer, was outed in the course of an arson investigation after someone set fire to his off-base home near Fort Hood, Texas.

The investigation into the fire was carried out by civilian fire department officials. A videotape discovered during the course of the investigation was the basis for his discharge.

Loomis' lawsuit alleges the investigation of his home and the seizure of the videotape was a violation of Fourth Amendment rights. The suit also charges the Army violated Loomis' right to a fair and impartial discharge hearing and that his discharge is rendered unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court's historic decision in Lawrence v. Texas. In Lawrence, the high court found a fundamental right to privacy for lesbian and gay Americans, and struck down state sodomy laws prohibiting consensual, adult relationships.

David Sheldon, a private practice Washington, D.C.-based attorney representing Loomis, and a noted expert on military law, said that "LTC Loomis loss of retirement constitutes a gross miscarriage of justice."

Loomis received a Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars and an Air Medal for his service in Vietnam. He was awarded his fourth Meritorious Service Medal and was recognized for promotion to full Colonel on the evening his home was destroyed by arson.

"What makes the loss of a decorated war veteran like Steve Loomis even more senseless and tragic is the fact that he is but one of many who have lost careers because of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said A.J. Rogue, president of American Veterans for Equal Rights, a national LGBT veterans group.

"In turn, our nation is suffering no less of a loss in vital manpower, simply because of sexual orientation. Lieutenant Colonel Loomis' case alone is proof that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' doesn't work. Our national security is suffering, not to mention the huge amount of money spent on recruiting and retraining individuals lost to the ban."

The Loomis lawsuit is one of three currently pending in federal court.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts recently heard oral arguments in Cook v. Rumsfeld, a constitutional challenge to 'don't ask, don't tell' filed on behalf of twelve former service members by Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. (story)

The Federal District Court for the Central District of California is also expected to rule soon on a motion in a challenge brought by Log Cabin Republicans. (story)

"The military's continued enforcement of what we believe is an unconstitutional law has significant costs for our national interests," said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN in a press statement.

"Qualified and talented men and women continue to be turned away from military service, at a time when our nation needs them most, for no reason other than simple discrimination. Our freedom is more secure when our military places qualification above sexual orientation."

Since 1993, more than 10,000 service members have been discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' according to Department of Defense figures. Since September 11, gay discharges have fallen more than 40 percent, continuing an historic trend of fewer discharges during times of conflict.

©365Gay.com 2005


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