Margaret Witt Hub

Air Force Major Margaret Witt Settles 'DADT' Case with Pentagon

Seven years after being suspended under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, Air Force Major Margaret Witt has settled her case with the Pentagon, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports:

Witt Per the agreement, Witt will retire with full benefits and her discharge will be removed from her record. The settlement ends a legal fight that began Witt’s suspension in 2004 and continued after her discharge in 2006.

During a tearful announcement at the Seattle office of the American Civil Liberties Union, Witt thanked her family, parents and fellow service members who stood by her during a trial last year that ended with a federal judge ruling that Witt’s dismissal served no military benefit.

Last November, the Department of Justice appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate Witt, a decorated flight.

Witt said she would be retiring to focus on her family and other things.

Said Witt: "I am proud to have played a role in bringing about the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I am so pleased that the tens of thousands of lesbians and gays who have served their country honorably will be able to serve openly...For the past seven years, I have been fighting for my rights and the rights of other lesbians and gays in the military. I wish I could have spent that time serving with my peers. Now, with the lawsuit completed, I’m ready to start a new chapter in my life."

Department of Justice Appeals Judge's Order That Lesbian Nurse Margaret Witt, Discharged Under DADT, Be Reinstated

The Department of Justice late this afternoon appealed a September ruling ordering the Air Force to reinstate lesbian flight nurse Margaret Witt, who was suspended in 2004, and ultimately discharged under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.

The WaPo reports: Witt

"U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton in Tacoma ruled in September that Maj. Margaret Witt's dismissal under the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy violated her rights. Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. The Justice Department filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The government is also appealing a ruling from a federal judge in California that found the "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional."

The government, however, did not ask the court to stay the decision, suggesting that Witt may serve during the appeal.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:

“Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional.  This filing in no way diminishes the President’s -- and his Administration’s -- firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year.  Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy.  In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck.”

Watch: Rachel Maddow Interviews Major Margaret Witt

Soon after Friday's momentous ruling by a federal judge in favor of Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, the DADT victim appeared on her very first national television interview alongside Rachel Maddow. Since her ouster, Witt has been working at a veteran's hospital and had this to say about her upcoming return to her former military career: "I'm ready whenever they are...I can’t wait to get back to my unit, to be with my incredible unit members; they're a wonderful group."

Watch the whole interview AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Watch: Rachel Maddow Interviews Major Margaret Witt" »

Judge Orders Air Force To Reinstate Lesbian Nurse Witt

6a00d8341c730253ef01348752a03b970c-800wi While Eddie Long's languishing in scandal this weekend, retired Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt will be busy celebrating, because federal Judge Judge Ronald Leighton ruled this afternoon that the military violated Witt's constitutional rights by discharging her under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Good flight nurses are hard to find," the Judge noted today, after a six-day trial, and told the Air Force to reinstate Witt, a move which "would not adversely affect unit morale or cohesion."

Witt's journey began in 2004, when, after 17 years in the Air Force, she was suspended and ultimately discharged under the discriminatory policy.

The resultant lawsuit led the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule in Witt's favor in 2008, and this latest ruling, which impacts only Witt's discharge, has already resonated among gay groups the country.

Continue reading "Judge Orders Air Force To Reinstate Lesbian Nurse Witt" »

Watch: Even More Maddow on 'DADT' — Major Margaret Witt, the Senate Vote, and Lady Gaga Ven Diagram


The Katherine Miller interview wasn't the only segment Rachel Maddow did on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". In a second segment, she reported on news on three fronts — Margaret Witt, Harry Reid, and Lady Gaga.


Continue reading "Watch: Even More Maddow on 'DADT' — Major Margaret Witt, the Senate Vote, and Lady Gaga Ven Diagram" »

Opening Arguments, Testimony Heard in Margaret Witt DADT Trial

Opening arguments began yesterday in Major Margaret Witt's challenge of her military discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Witt The AP reports:

Witt sat in the courtroom Monday amid her supporters, including Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, a fighter pilot from Idaho who is fighting his own discharge by the U.S. Air Force.

Peter Phipps, a Justice Department lawyer representing the Air Force, insisted during his opening statement that Witt's conduct necessitated her firing. That included a long-term relationship with a civilian woman, an affair with a married woman and two earlier relationships with fellow servicewomen, Witt acknowledged in a May deposition. A 2004 e-mail from the married woman's husband to the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. John Jumper, prompted the investigation into Witt's sexuality. Witt remains in a relationship with that woman, whose husband divorced her.

"By committing adultery, she compromised her integrity and her ability to lead," Phipps said. "Plaintiff set an example of a disregard for Air Force policies."

Witt's discharge therefore eliminated a risk to unit cohesion and morale, he added. He said the support she has received from colleagues is irrelevant; the law's constitutionality doesn't depend on the views of her friends.

Lt. Col. Vincent Oda testified that Witt's firing, which came at a time that there was a shortage of flight nurses, harmed the military: "We were at war at the time. It was the loss of an able flight nurse is what that was."

Manzella Other impacted military personnel testified as well:

The court also heard from other service members discharged under "don't ask, don't tell." One, former Army Sgt. Darren Manzella, said that when his superiors first investigated him, he gave them pictures of himself and his boyfriend kissing to make it clear he didn't want to hide anything. The result of that initial inquiry? "No evidence" of homosexuality, Manzella said. He served almost two more years before the Army kicked him out in 2008.

Retired Master Sgt. James Schaffer, who led Witt's unit, testified that "gay and lesbian members of his Air Force Reserve unit bore no stigma."

The Seattle Times reports:

So in 2004, he was stunned to learn of an Air Force decision to suspend one member of his unit, Maj. Margaret Witt, for homosexual conduct that violated the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"I felt it was a dishonorable act on the part of the Air Force," Schaffer testified Monday as the leadoff witness in a U.S. District Court trial to determine whether Witt, who was eventually forced into retirement, should be reinstated with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.


Towleroad - Blogged