ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE Marine Wins Back Pay, Reins
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Marine Wins Back Pay, Reinstatement;
Sergeant Had Testified on Behalf of Lesbian Colleague
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 31, 1990
The Navy has awarded back pay and restored the good-service
record of a former Marine sergeant who lost her assignment after
testifying as a character witness for a lesbian colleague who was
facing a court martial.
Nan Hunter, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who
represented the former sergeant, Christine R. Hilinski, said the
ruling will make it easier for service men and women to voice
their opinions that the military's anti-gay policy is irrational.
"We know that there is tremendous disagreement with the policy
among officers and others," Hunter said. "This ruling will enable
them to express that opinion by protecting them from retaliation
during the internal policy battles that lie ahead."
During testimony at the 1988 court-martial trial, Hilinski said
that her former colleague, Sergeant Cheryl Jameson, "did a fine
job" and that Jameson's sexual orientation had not affected her
work in any way.
After the trial, Hilinski's supervisor demoted her and cut her
pay by $220 a month. The corp's only justification, the ACLU
argued in legal papers, was that her supervisor believed that
Hilinski showed poor judgment in her testimony because she was
"lenient in her position on homosexuality."
Earlier in the same month, Hilinski's supervisor had called her
"dedicated, polished, professional and dependable." At that
time, her supervisor had also called her judgment "outstanding."
After serving for 11 years with the Marines, Hilinski left the
service in 1989. She said she hoped her successful legal
challenge would encourage others to speak out against the
military's anti-gay policies. "I strongly believe that sexual
orientation should not be considered in evaluating anyone's
performance,'' she said.
William B. Rubenstein, the Director of the ACLU's Lesbian and
Gay Rights Project, said the Navy's decision in the Hilinski case
represents the latest blow to the military's anti-gay policies.
"We will use this victory to further advance our war against the
military's homophobia," he said. "It will be particularly
important in our continuing challenge to ROTC discrimination on
campuses across the country."
The Lesbian and Gay Rights Project is sponsoring a national
organizing conference on the ROTC in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on
November 9, 1990. Several hundred people are expected to attend
the one-day conference, which is being designed to provide campus
organizers and other interested persons with strategies to combat
ROTC discrimination against gays and lesbians.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank