Air Force Academy to hold gay-bias presser with veracity-compromised Capt. Michelle Reinstatler

The US Air Force Academy was already facing growing accusations that they lied in a press release about a recent meeting in which multiple gay cadets expressed concerns to the superintendent of the academy, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, about the academy’s anti-gay culture.

Today we learned that the academy will hold a press conference this afternoon with three hand-picked gay cadets and the officer who claimed, incredibly, that no one expressed any concerns at the earlier meeting, Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, when in fact we know the overwhelming majority of cadets in attendance did.

To be entirely accurate, Reinstatler did say the gay cadets had one concern.  Namely, that all these stories about the academy having an anti-gay culture might hurt recruitment at the academy.

In other words, if you’re a gay cadet being harassed or discriminated against at the US Air Force academy, STFU.

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler says gay cadets have not expressed any concerns about the Air Force Academy. Multiple sources say Reinstatler is wrong.

Oddly, since Reinstatler claimed no cadet expressed any concerns about anti-gay problems at the academy, multiple sources with direct knowledge of what took place at the meeting say the opposite in fact occurred.

Most of the cadets in attendance expressed concerns about homophobia in cadet culture and from fellow cadets, according to our sources.

Yet, following the meeting, the academy issued a press release, quoting Reinstatler, and flushing all the gay cadets and their concerns down the memory hole.

In a story that is looking increasingly like the military command’s poor handling of sexual harassment claims, in which such claims are frowned up and then investigated by the very chain of command that was responsible for not taking the claims seriously in the first place, the Air Force Academy has clearly dug in and decided to simply deny, and cover up, the problem entirely.

What’s worse, however, is the academy conspiring to mislead the public, and the Pentagon, Congress and the White House about what amounts to an EEO- sexual-harassment/civil rights- type claim.

That raises concerns not just about the future of such complaints at the academy (a future that is nonexistent at this point), but it also means that senior members of the academy committed at least one violation, if not more, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Military regulations tend to frown upon conspiracies to cover up  (and outright lie about) anything, let alone harassment and/or civil rights complaints.

This entire story began earlier this week with the news that the Air Force Academy had hired a man with 20 years experience “curing homosexuals” and instilling them with “heterosexual confidence” in charge of overseeing the academy’s “character” and “leadership” coaching program that is required for every cadet.

In response to that story, and its mention of the fact that many gay cadets feel the academy has some anti-gay issues in its culture, the head of the academy, General Johnson, called a meeting with about two dozen gay cadets, and with her senior staff present, asked the undergraduates if they had a problem.  Most of the cadets in attendance, according to multiple sources, and contrary to Reinstatler’s quote in the Air Force’s official press release, did in fact express concerns to Johnson and those in attendance.

Now, in the corporate world, imagine what would happen if the CEO of IBM, for example, sitting with his top staff in attendance, called in an 18 year old secretary, just hired this past year, who had expressed concerns about being sexually harassed.  How comfortable do you think the junior staffer might be about expressing their concerns about mistreatment in the workplace to the CEO and his top staff?  Then imagine how comfortable the low-level staffer would be after the company issues a press release saying that if you express concerns about sexual harassment you’re hurting the company. Oh, and in that same release, they tell the world that you expressed no concerns. Are you going to speak up again?  Doubtful.

What began as a story about one bizarre hire at the Air Force Academy has now turned into a story about corruption and cover-up, and a culture of anti-gay bias at the academy that appears to go all the way to top, to General Johnson herself – who after all is responsible for the academy’s press release yesterday denying what actually happened at her own meeting.

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler

Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler

We all had such high hopes when President Obama signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  But now those hopes are sinking.

We’re already dealing with a number of states in the south who are refusing to recognize the same-sex spouses of gay US service members. Then we had the news this week that a base in California refused to let a married gay couple attend a US military sponsored couples retreat.  And now we have the US Air Force Academy, the place where the US Air Force’s elite officer corps is groomed, involved in a conspiracy to cover up anti-gay bias at the institution.

If you thought Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was gone for good, you are sadly mistaken.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • cole3244

    give them the rope a they will hang themselves the only problem there isn’t enough rope around to hang all the haters in america.

  • Julien Pierre

    Do those pictures trigger anyone’s lesdar ? Is it it just my imagination or we have a self-hating person here ?

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    I remember the old days of the Citadel. The problems lies deep and has been entrenched for decades.

  • Robert Luke Antonek

    Keep up the pressure, I am glad we have finally turned the corner on this issue from a homophobe in a position of influence, to Military Commanders countermanding and actively conspiring to disobey direct orders from their Civilian Superiors. We have to remember this is the military and the federal government. Any success is going to be based solely upon their tacit approval and actions that break the law, go against policies they have been instructed to implement, and any and all coverup, coercion, and collusion activities concerning such illegality. I am still quite waiting to see the official release from the Inspector General that they have begun an inquiry into the hiring practices of the academy and the now obvious actions of the USAF Academy Commanders acting in insubordination of the orders from their Commander in Chief to cease and desist of all actions that marginalize and discriminate against gays and lesbians serving in the military. FYI, I have still no response from my correspondence to the Air Force Inspector General to begin an inquiry, nor have I received any response to my Freedom of Information Act Request. Will keep you posted. Next step is to request the release of any notes taken, or minutes from the meeting with Cadets via Freedom of Information Act Law.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    True. Troll is only skin deep. Beneath that is an ogre.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Thank you Mr. creep.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I didn’t photoshop anything, not to mention, why would I?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yes I saw that, I appreciated that Zack gave us props and did a good story in his own right.

  • TampaZeke

    It’s no coincidence that the Air Force Academy is just down Ronald Reagan Highway from Focus on the Family Headquarters in a city known as the Fundamentalist Christian Vatican.

  • cole3244

    the military are not only doing unthinkable things over seas but in country also, every time i see these ads and commercials making the military out to be the best of the best i almost vomit.

    this is the way germany got in trouble so fast without anyone caring or noticing.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Aye, but in a way, some of this isn’t news at all. It’s long been known that the AFA was a hotbed of hyper-Christian Dominionism for cadets. Before, it was mainly religious minorities who experienced the harassment — Jews, atheists, Muslims, etc. I’m not at all surprised they’re going after the LGBs now.

    Used to be they had DADT to fall back on. Now the religiously-motivated homophobia is unmasked.

  • Mighty

    When is the Pentagon going to bring down the hammer in general on the states not complying?

  • ArthurH

    You have to wonder who in the Academy thought they could fool with that press release. They should have known that people inside that meeting would be angered enough to spill the beans. When the Pentagon gets to the bottom of this deception heads should roll among the brass.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Aye, and it was interesting to watch him devolve from “merely anti-gay” into a raging “f*gs should all be in prison” homophobe. Didn’t take long at all.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    John would never do that. Period.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Another story, this via HuffPo reprinting a letter ostensibly from a cadet who, under anonymity, wrote the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/air-force-academy-gay_n_4319087.html

    An excerpt:

    I saw USAFA’s self serving press release today about how “happy” all the gay cadets are here. How nice of all of the powers that be to meet with the Spectrum Club all of the sudden now that they’re in the shits with the media and getting jacked up everywhere for hiring Rosebush. Of course to be in Spectrum you have to out yourself. If I and the many other cadets I know who are LGB came out it would be devastating for our cadet and future Air Force careers. I could never stay on my intercollegiate team. Being LGB here is like not being an “all in” Christian. You’re finished.

    The full letter — and it’s mighty damning — at the link.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I think it’s becoming increasingly clear you caught ‘em with their pants ’round their ankles.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Looks like ThinkProgress has picked up the story, too — with appropriate attributing links back to your posts, John.

    http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/11/22/2984411/air-force-academy-gay/

    This has the potential to break huge.

  • http://40yrs.blogspot.com Matthew G. Saroff

    If that picture with the tats and evening gown is a Photoshop, I must object. (If it’s not, the never mind)

    Specifically, when someone does something wrong, and they are a woman, we see this sort of appearance crap, and we don’t if they are a man.

    Capt Reinstatler is clearly a liar, but the Photoshop is uncalled for.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m on the call. It’s rather incredible. They’re now admitting, well, cadets did raise some gay issues during the meeting, but we can’t talk about them because of privacy. That’s why they organized the press conference, to prove that no concerns were raised, and now that we nail them admitting concerns were raised, they lectured us about privacy. Priceless.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Blame the victim is the usual strategy. On this site a few days ago was an Academy troll freak, who blamed sexual immorality and problems in the Academy on liberal culture that had infected the Academy.

  • Stev84

    As if anyone could speak up in public. Their career would be over before it started.

    That’s how the military has proven itself to operate time and time again. Don’t rock the boat. Keep everything quiet. Or else.

    Something that was frequently used against gays under DADT. People were known to be gay with little issues. Then they reported someone for misconduct and were officially outed and discharged. It’s also how they covered up their sexual assault epidemic for so many years.

    Or remember how they dealt with the previous religious coercion scandal ca. 2005. The investigation found harassment and as a result a religious toleration program was planned. But the behest of the fundamentalist chaplaincy, the program was toned down to the point of uselessness. A single chaplain spoke up about it and told the truth about what happened. To silence and punish her, she was assigned to a backwater base in Asia. She then left the military.

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