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OutServe Magazine | September 1, 2014

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The OutHeroes Project: Corporal Kevin Blaesing

In Honor of Corporal Kevin Blaesing

by Michelle Benecke, Esq.

Marine Corporal Kevin Blaesing was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina with the Marine Security Force in the early 1990s, and served under the mis-named “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In the course of private counseling sessions with a Navy psychologist, he asked some general questions about sexuality and sexual orientation. Because the psychologist was a Naval officer, he was not bound to keep this information confidential, and he voluntarily reported Blaesing as gay. Fortunately, Blaesing’s commander did not act on this information and Blaesing continued to serve – until there was a change in command. The new commander, Lieutenant Colonel Martinson, reacted differently.

Although the Navy psychologist admitted that Blaesing never actually said he was gay or discussed his sexual orientation, Martinson initiated discharge proceedings. Additionally, he downgraded Blaesing’s performance evaluations, against the recommendations of Blaesing’s supervisors. Corporal Blaesing was discharged in 1994.

To add insult to injury, Martinson gave Corporal Blaesing the lowest possible recommendation for reenlistment, thus effectively killing any opportunity to reenlist and continue his military career, even if DADT were to end.

After leaving the Marine Corps, Blaesing continued to fight on behalf of other military members. As a volunteer with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, he advocated for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and for changes to Department of Defense policies and practices – specifically the policies under which mental health providers believed they had a duty to turn in suspected gay military members. In 1998, Defense Secretary Cohen issued new guidance making it clear there was no duty to turn in GLB military members who sought mental health services. Subsequently, President Clinton signed an Executive Order providing for a limited psychotherapist privilege. These actions stem from Blaesing’s efforts to assist other military members. Today, Kevin Blaesing works in the private sector in Savannah, Georgia.