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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE 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.


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