Openly Gay Republican State Legislator Targeted by Military's Discriminatory Policy

Arizona State Rep. Steve May Faces Possible Discharge From Army

August 26, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – State Rep. Steve May of Arizona – a conservative Republican, a Mormon, a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve and the only openly gay GOP state legislator in the country – is currently under investigation by the military under its anti-gay policy. Three national public interest organizations today decried the military's action against May and the policy behind it, including the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which helped elect May to public office; the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP organization for which May serves as a national board member; and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which is advising May during the investigation.

"Lieutenant May has a flawless record of military service, and yet he is being targeted for investigation just because he has the character to be honest about who he is," said C. Dixon Osburn, co-executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network which provides legal help to members of the armed forces harmed by the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy. "When Lieutenant May was called up for the active Reserve, he was obligated and honored to answer the call. Now he may be penalized for doing his duty."

May won his seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in 1998 with Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund support, and while in the Legislature he has continued to acknowledge his orientation.

"The voters elected Steve May because he embodies the very same leadership qualities of honesty and integrity for which the military may now discharge him," said Brian K. Bond, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. "One day our armed forces will hold all of our troops strictly and equally to the same high standards of conduct instead of arbitrarily discriminating against exemplary officers like Steve May. It is sad that, while the people of Rep. May's district are willing to treat him based on his job-related merits, the military is not. Voters value honesty – it's a shame that, at least with respect to our gay soldiers, the military doesn't. One day the military's misguided policy of mandatory discrimination will end."

May had joined the Army ROTC while in college and then served on active duty for two years before being assigned to the Inactive Ready Reserve. In February 1999, May received orders to report to the Active Reserve when the recent crisis arose in Kosovo. After May obeyed those orders, the military began looking more closely at his public statements as a legislator and opened an investigation of May under the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue" policy.

"What is happening to Steve clearly shows how absurd this policy is," said Rich Tafel, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans. "Clearly, the next president of the United States will have to address 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' There is no justification for kicking out an exemplary public servant like Steve May."

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is the only national organization whose sole mission is to increase the number of outstanding openly gay and lesbian public officials. As the nation's 14th largest nonconnected political action committee, the Victory Fund has generated more than $2 million for qualified openly gay and lesbian candidates at all levels of government.

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a federal political action committee and a national office headquartered in Washington.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is the only national legal aid and watchdog organization that assists men and women in the military on a daily basis who face witch hunts, hate crimes, harassment and discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Pursue." In five years, SLDN has directly assisted more than 1800 military members.