Major Margaret Witt's Case May Help Bring an End to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

major margaret witt.jpg
UPDATE: A judge ruled that Major Witt should be given her job back as soon as possible.

Someday, we're all going to look back at this whole hunting-and-trapping-the-gays-out-of-the-military thing and just laugh. Or cry. Or both. But until that hypothetical enlightened age, there's Major Margaret Witt, a decorated 19-year veteran of the Air Force whose lawsuit may help bring an end to "Don't ask, don't tell."

In 2004, the husband of a woman Witt was dating sent a note to the Air Force outing her as a lesbian. She would eventually be discharged three years later.

Witt sued, and now she finds herself in U.S. District Court in Tacoma with a chance to argue for her reinstatement. An argument that will center on whether or not her status as a lesbian "hurt morale and unit cohesion."

A flight nurse at McChord, Witt was literally the Air Force's poster child, as her face was used on the Nurse Corp's promotional fliers. And a year before getting the boot, Witt received her second medal for saving the life of a Defense Department employee on a flight from Bahrain.

Should Witt's trial, expected to take seven days, end in her favor, it could give a big push to DADT opponents in Congress looking to whack the law in the next defense bill. An effort already helped along by last week's decision in a California federal court that the policy is unconstitutional.

The government is expected to argue that, along with her orientation, Witt also should have been fired because she committed adultery. A precedent that, if enforced, would shrink our armed services to approximately the size of Hungary's. And even though it shouldn't matter, here's another uncomfortable detail the feds probably won't acknowledge: it's now six years later and Witt is still with the same woman.

UPDATE: In making his decision, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said that Witt being a lesbian didn't hurt her unit's morale or cohesion.

"I appreciate the Court's belief in the professionalism of the military," Witt said after today's decision. "Many people forget that the U.S. military is the most diverse workforce in the world--we are extremely versed in adaptation. Thousands of men and women who are gay and lesbian honorably serve this country in our military. Wounded personnel never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me. I can't wait to rejoin my unit."

comments powered by Disqus