Steve May Discharge Violates Military Policy, Federal and State Law

Log Cabin Rallies Behind Gay GOP Legislator in Latest Action

September 18, 2000 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – In its decision Sunday, September 17, to recommend discharging First Lieutenant Steve May from the U.S. Army Reserves, an Army panel has not remained within the Clinton Administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, or within the U.S. and Arizona constitutions, said the nation's largest gay Republican organization.

"We stand by Steve today, as he is not only a model soldier and a model military officer, but a model leader for all Americans," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans. "The military has stepped beyond the limits of its own policy, as well as the U.S. and Arizona constitutions, in taking this step. They had no jurisdiction over Steve at the time he spoke in the legislature, and he has constitutional immunity for any statements made in the legislature in any case. Furthermore, separating Steve from his unit will damage the military as an institution, and deprive it of one of its most dedicated soldiers. Whatever the outcome of the case, history will record that Steve May is a great American, who served his country with great honor, and he is a symbol of why the current policy and its implementation do not work.".

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.

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."

"He never has violated the "don't ask, don't tell" rules," said Christopher Wolf, May's legal counsel. "His statements as a civilian legislator during a debate in the Arizona legislature over a matter of public policy were not covered by the rules. His responses to the media about the improper Army investigation were proper and cannot be used to bootstrap the investigation."

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest gay and lesbian Republican organization, with state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time national office and a federal political action committee.

For more information on Steve May's legislative accomplishments visit

For more information on the Clinton Administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, visit the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network at