Air Force Academy used to send gay cadets to Ted Haggard to be “cured”

Rachel Maddow digs even further into the story AMERICAblog broke earlier this week about the Air Force Academy hiring an “ex-gay” “heterosexual confidence” expert to run its “character coaching” program.

[UPDATE: We learned this morning that the acting-Secretary of the Air Force has directed the Air Force Academy to investigate its own cover-up of the anti-gay culture at the academy. That should go well. More on that, below.]

Rachel starts with a look at Colorado Springs, Colorado, the city the academy is located in, and the inordinate power that one of the main religious right organizations, Focus on the Family, welds in that town.

She then gets into the Air Force Academy’s sorry history of infiltration by the religious right, and how they used the academy to basically jam conservative Christian religion down the throats of the cadets.

Then she segues to this week’s story of the academy hiring a man whose only professional experience of the past two decades is working for the religious right and trying to “cure” gay people. Rachel asks, “why is he on staff in the first place, why did you hire him.”

air-force-academy-gay

Good question.  At first, the Air Force Academy told Stars & Stripes that the records were gone, they couldn’t say why he’d been hired and whether his “ex-gay” expertise played a role.  But then, yesterday, the Air Force Academy switched gears and did a 180, claiming they suddenly knew exactly why Dr. Mike Rosebush had been hired, and rest assured it wasn’t due to his nearly 20 years “curing” the homosexual.  They hired him for his work during the time that Ronald Reagan was president.

Which is great news, since it means those “records” that were “lost” have now been “found.”  I’m sure someone at the Pentagon, or the Congress, would be thrilled to review those records.  And perhaps a FOIA is now in order as well.

Rachel then had on a guest, Scott Hines, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1992, and who the Air Force Academy sent to Ted Haggard’s New Life Church so they could give him therapy to make him straight. Ted Haggard, who was once America’s top evangelical, was famously outed a number of years ago.

It didn’t work.  But his male therapist did sexually harass him.

Of course, this story has now gotten far bigger than just the ex-gay angle.  We learned yesterday that the Air Force Academy is now lying about a recent meeting the Superintendent (the general running the academy), Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, held with around two dozen gay cadets.

Michelle-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.

Multiple sources with direct knowledge of what transpired at that meeting say the cadets expressed a number of concerns about an anti-gay culture at the academy inhibiting their progress.

Incredibly, the academy issued a press release claiming that no concerns were raised at the meeting.  They even quoted an officer, Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, claiming that, “During the forum with leadership, the cadets of Spectrum expressed multiple times that the Academy is a safe and validating place to be LGBQ.”  Reinstatler went on to claim that several cadets were “frustrated” with negative articles about the anti-gay culture at the academy, thus sending a clear message to any future whistleblowers that they are “hurting the academy” if they tell the truth about harassment, anti-gay, sexual or otherwise.

Reinstatler said nothing about the multiple cadets who expressed concerns about the lack of a safe and validating culture at the academy.

What’s more, the question now arises, who else was told the lie that the meeting with the gay cadets didn’t bring up any concerns about anti-gay bias?  Did the Air Force Academy relay this lie to anyone on Capitol Hill, or to anyone at the Pentagon or the White House?

We are now talking with military lawyers and other federal officials to determine what action can be taken against Capt. Reinstatler, and whoever drafted and approved of the press release, as – if the multiple sources with knowledge of the meeting are to be trusted – this has now become a conspiracy to cover-up, and undermine, what amounts to an EEO complaint, similar to when military brass in the past have refused to investigate, and then covered up, complaints of sexual harassment against service members.

If the Air Force Academy is going to lie in the names of Capt. Reinstatler and the Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, then that means the chain of command at the academy is broken, there is nowhere for gay cadets – or any other cadet who has suffered harassment in the workplace – to go, and that outside intervention, legal, administrative and political, is now necessary.

According to the Huffington Post, acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning released a statement today (Friday) saying that the academy is looking into the matter of its alleged anti-gay culture:

The Air Force Academy released a statement from Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning and Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, on Friday saying the academy is looking into the matter.

“The Air Force is comprised of a rich workforce whose backgrounds reflect various races, origins, orientations, ethnicities, languages, cultures and life experiences,” it said. “We promote an atmosphere of inclusion throughout our ranks and strive to ensure every Airman is treated with dignity and respect.”

How exactly is the academy going to look into a matter that the academy, all the way to the general running the academy, lied about and tried to cover up? This is increasingly looking like the ongoing sexual harassment scandals in the military, where the same military officials who cover up the scandals and then asked to investigate the cover up that they themselves orchestrated.

We need an independent investigation.

The part about the academy begins at 2:30 into the video below, and at 4:00 Rachel begins talking about Rosebush, the “ex-gay” “heterosexual confidence” expert.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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