Log Cabin Lauds Army Dismissal Of Case Against Steve May

In Surprise Move, Military Pulls Back from Discharge of Model Soldier

January 15, 2001 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The nation's largest gay Republican organization applauded a surprise decision by the U.S. Army to dismiss its discharge proceeding against Arizona state Rep. Steve May (R), a Reserve Lieutentant, and expressed hope that it would lead to better and more fair treatment of soldiers serving in the military.

"The case against Steve was not only wrong and harmful to the military, but it was unconstitutional, and the decision to dismiss the case was the only right course of action," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "We are proud of Steve May – his moral courage, his determination and exemplary record of service are a great example not only to the American people, but to the U.S. military. We hope that this dismissal will help set a tone toward reversing nearly eight years of unfair treatment of excellent soldiers under the current policy on gays in the military. Steve's sincere willingness to serve his country, and to work hard to make his country a better place, are examples for all of us about what one courageous person can do."

"Ending the discrimination of qualified gays and lesbians in who want to serve their country remains a very important priority," Tafel said.

May, a Republican member of the Arizona state House of Representatives and a national Board member of Log Cabin Republicans, served in the U.S. Army until his discharge in 1995, at which time he became an inactive military reservist, no longer subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or the Clinton Administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. May came out as openly gay in 1996 in an unsuccessful run for the Arizona State Senate, and joined the Board of Log Cabin Republicans.

In 1998, May was elected to the Arizona House, and in February 1999, during a legislative debate on domestic partner legislation, May confronted a fellow legislator for her anti-gay remarks. In April 1999, May was called up to active reserve duty by the U.S. Army Reserve during the Kosovo crisis, putting him back under jurisdiction of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Shortly after the Kosovo crisis was over, an investigation was begun on May based on his comments in the state legislature before he was activated, resulting in the panel's recommendation on September 17, 2000 that he be discharged.

In a letter to the panel of three Army Colonels reviewing May's case, Republican Congressman John Shadegg (R-AZ) insisted that the Army's case was unconstitutional.

"The remarks which gave rise to the separation proceedings against Stephen May were made by him pursuant to a debate on legislation before the Arizona State Legislature, of which he is a Member," Shadegg wrote. "For the sake of the representative democracy established by the Constitution, the Board is prohibited from disciplinary action against Stephen May for his participation in the legislative process."

The decision today by the Army to instead drop the case will allow May to serve out his term as a Reservist until May 2001.

In a statement released today, May's attorney, Christopher Wolf, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Proskauer Rose LLP announced the decision in Washington. "It appears the Army finally realized that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should not be stretched beyond its intended scope, especially in the case of an officer described by the Army's own command as 'one of the best and brightest' and revered by his troops," Wolf said. "We have argued all along that the Army mindlessly went on a 'search and destroy' mission against one of its own, essentially playing a game of 'gotcha' in order to oust a gay officer. That is not what Congress intended when it passed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell,"" Wolf added.

In his written statement, May, who recently was appointed Chairman of the Arizona House Ways and Means Committee, reacted to the Army's decision: "It is gratifying that the Army has decided to drop the case. I have always served my country with honor, integrity, and loyalty, and it hurt me deeply that the Army would try to fire me – not for anything I did in the Army, but for who I am and for doing my legislator's job. I didn't ask to go back into the Army, but when called, I reported for duty and did my job there. My sexual orientation and my statements about my sexual orientation have never interfered with my performance as an officer in the United States Army. There is no reason I shouldn't be allowed to complete my term of service, and now I will. I hope my case serves as an example of how wasteful and hurtful sexual orientation discrimination can be. People should be judged for how they perform and behave, not for their sex, skin color, national origin or sexual orientation. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is immoral. Just as discrimination against African Americans and women finally ended, discrimination against gays and lesbians must stop. It seems appropriate that this announcement comes on Martin Luther King Day, for any erosion of discrimination is in the spirit of Dr. King's teachings."