Charges Dismissed Against Lesbian Sailor Court Martialed for Civil Union

Charges Dismissed Against Lesbian Sailor Court Martialed for Civil Union

A military judge has dismissed a charge against Chief Petty Officer Sabrina Russell that accused the 31-year-old sailor of an inappropriate relationship with another servicewoman at Naval Station Great Lakes, according to The Chicago Tribune. That servicewoman was 32-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Jodi Geibel, whom Russell met online in 2010 while Russell was deployed to Afghanistan. They were joined in a civil union in 2012.

Russell's court-martial earlier this year brought attention to the continuing problem of homophobia and discrimination in the military.  According to a statement from Russell's lawyer, Eric Montalvo, the partnership between Geibel and Russell had been treated under a different provision than a heterosexual married couple would have been.

Geibel opted to avoid court-martial proceedings by accepting nonjudicial punishment. She was fined $2,000 and lost her job specialty as a recruit division commander, According to Montalvo. Russell, on the other hand, accepted the court-martial for allegedly having an "unduly familiar personal relationship" with Geibel, which was a military violation of the rule prohibiting higher-ranking enlisted personnel from having romantic or significant relationships with lower-ranking personnel within the same command.

Russell's lawyer requested the case's dismissal on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove their conduct was "prejudicial to good order and discipline."  The military judge, Cmdr. Charles Stimson, granted his request, as prosecutors had presented no argument regarding the servicewomen's relationship and its effect on their work performance.

Through Montalvo, Russell and Geibel declined to comment.

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