Another DADT Trial Begins Tomorrow

The trial of former Major Margaret Witt begins tomorrow, just days after a judge in California found "Don't As, Don't Tell" to be unconstitutional. You may recall that in 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stood by its ruling to reinstate her case that challenged DADT. Witt had served as an Air Force reservist flight nurse for 20 years until someone called the Air Force and told them she had a live-in female partner.

The AP reports:

Witt Witt was a member of a squadron based at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma when she was suspended in 2004 and honorably discharged. She challenged the constitutionality of her dismissal, and a federal appeals court panel ruled in 2008 that the military could not discharge service members for being gay unless it proved that the firing furthered military readiness.

The case was sent back to U.S. District Court in Tacoma for Judge Robert Leighton to determine whether Witt's firing met that standard. Several of Witt's former colleagues are expected to testify that she was an excellent nurse, and it was her dismissal – not her sexual orientation – that caused morale problems in the unit.

Justice Department lawyers representing the Air Force note that the case has put them in the position of defending a law neither the president nor the department itself believes is good policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also favors repealing the 1993 law, which prohibits the military from asking about the sexual orientation of service members but allows the discharge of those who acknowledge being gay or are discovered to be engaging in homosexual activity. Government lawyers nevertheless insist Witt's firing was justified – and that the panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not know the extent of her conduct when it sided with her in 2008. That conduct included a long-term relationship with a civilian woman, an affair with a woman who was married at the time and two earlier relationships with fellow servicewomen, Witt acknowledged in a deposition in May.

The trial is expected to last 7 days.


  1. anon says

    “Government lawyers nevertheless insist Witt’s firing was justified – and that the panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not know the extent of her conduct when it sided with her in 2008.”

    They didn’t know the *extent* of her conduct?? Imagine them saying the actual words they were implying. “But…they didn’t know the extent of her conduct! I mean, she was living WITH ANOTHER WOMAN! AND WAS WITH OTHER WOMEN! AND SHE’S A WOMAN!!” And these guys complain about their position in defending the law?! WTF

  2. Jack says

    Obama has an “easy out” option, that would instantly end DADT and do away with the necessity for further lawsuits. He can order the DoJ and Eric Holder to refuse to appeal Judge Phillips ruling on the unconstitutionality of DADT. That would end the policy, since a law that is declared unconstitutional cannot be enforced. It would also make moot any need for Congress to give its permission to repeal the 1993 law. So far, however, Obama has been “missing in action” and has not even addressed Judge Phillips decision. What are the odds that Obama will step up, show leadership and do the right thing?

  3. Randy says

    Being a gay soldier and after spending seven years in the Army. What the public doesn’t understand is that once in the military, you give up all constitutional rights. Hence the accronym GI. The government has complete control over every aspect of your life. So, even though the judge has ruled it unconstitutional, it does not however, effect the military. It is two seperate entities. So her decission will not effect what the military will do.

  4. ratbastard says

    She had affairs…with a married women no less. Shit, take this from a vet, considering the wide-spread shenanigans that go on routinely on bases here in the states and overseas, including adultery, half the fucking armed forces should be up for dismissal.

  5. mad1026 says

    Didn’t Newt Gingrich and John McCain and Bill Clinton and, I’ll bet even Tripp or Fall or Stumble or whatever that Palin bitch’s husband’s name is, have affairs, with married or unmarried women while still married? WTF?? Talk about double standards! It’s ok for str8 folk, but gay? No way!! Who’s zoomin’ who??

  6. Steve says

    If they wanted to charge her for adultery, they should have done so. But her discharge papers probably say “homosexual conduct”. It was unprofessional, but bringing that up now is just an after the fact rationalization for the dismissal.

    Aside from that, plenty of people receive far less serve punishments for having affairs. If they are punished at all.

  7. Ninong says

    The UCMJ’s prohibition against adultery is never enforced when it comes to heterosexual servicemembers. They don’t say if the two relationships with “fellow servicewomen” were with other officers or with enlisted personnel (fraternization).

    Unless the “fellow servicewomen” were directly under her command, I don’t see what they’re complaining about. Besides, if the military discharged every officer who ever had sex with a subordinate, the officers ranks would be thinned out in no time.

    Under the UCMJ, even oral sex between two persons of the opposite sex is prohibited. When was the last time they prosecuted anyone for that?

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