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Air Force Reserves dismisses lesbian major under DADT

“I joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country. I have loved being in the military – my fellow airmen have been my family. I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job. Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there.”
— Major Margaret Witt, who is challenging her discharge for “engaging in homosexual conduct” by the Air Force Reserves in a case filed by the ACLU of Washington state

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell claims another much-decorated member of the military, this time a major and flight nurse assigned to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Washington.

Major Margaret Witt was booted out of the service by an anonymous “tip” received two years ago, identifying her as a lesbian in a long-term relationship. The military, under DADT, opened up an investigation that led to her discharge. (ACLU):

From 1997 to 2003, Major Witt was in a committed relationship with another woman, a civilian. In the summer of 2004, Major Witt was notified that the Air Force had begun an investigation into an allegation that she had engaged in homosexual conduct. In November 2004, Major Witt was placed on unpaid leave and told she could no longer participate in any military duties, pending formal separation proceedings. In March 2006, the Air Force informed Major Witt that she was being administratively discharged on grounds of homosexual conduct.

The lawsuit seeks to restrain the Air Force from discharging Major Witt or from otherwise hampering her military career. The military has provided no evidence that her sexual orientation or conduct has caused a problem in the performance of her military duties. To the contrary, the ACLU is submitting declarations from military colleagues that her forced absence is harmful to her unit’s morale.

Mind you, there is a critical shortage of flight nurses in the Air Force Reserves, with 121 vacancies for flight nurses at Major Witt’s rank.

This makes no flipping sense, and everyone knows it.

How can someone with this record be cut loose when the military needs more people like her in the ranks?

During her 18-year career in the Air Force, Major Witt has served in the Persian Gulf, has received many medals and commendations, and has always had superb evaluations from her superiors. In 1993, she was selected to be the “poster child” for the Air Force Nurse Corps recruitment flyer. In 2003, Major Witt was awarded an Air Force Commendation Medal for her action in saving the life of a Department of Defense employee who had collapsed aboard a government-chartered flight from Bahrain.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network‘s Steve Ralls told 365Gay.com that the requirement of DADT that a commander must receive “credible evidence” of a service member’s homosexuality is quite fast and loose.

“Unfortunately, however, the definition of ‘credible evidence’ is determined by the command…SLDN has represented numerous service members who were investigated based on questionable information, including anonymous emails and accusations made by individuals who were clearly untrustworthy.”

This all has to stop. With Dear Leader swaggering about Iran, and as the body count continues to rise in Iraq, how long can this insanity of terrorizing and discharging gays and lesbians for simply wanting to serve their country continue?

***

Links:
The complaint filed by the ACLU of Washington State
Major Witt’s Air Force commendations
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Hat tips to Blenders Paul and Lisa

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding