Big congratulations are in order for the ACLU and Major Margaret Witt, who announced a major victory today over the Army’s still-in-effect Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Under the terms of a settlement, the government will remove the discharge from her record, provide her with full benefits, and will drop its appeal of a court case that found they discharged her inappropriately.
The Army should have known better than to tangle with Witt, an amazing woman who has so distinguished herself over her career that she basically has super powers. She has medals and commendations — including a notation from the first President Bush that she delivered “outstanding medical care” and that she was a credit to the Air Force. She also saved the life of a Defense Department employee who collapsed during a flight. And according to rumor, she has an invisible jet and a lasso that makes you tell the truth.
Despite all that, when the Air Force found out in 2004 that she might like ladies, they tried to end her career. Mean! And also, dumb. Because, you know, at a time of war we ought to be disqualifying as many decorated physicians as we possibly can.
That kicked off years of legal back-and-forth, culminating in a 2008 ruling that the Army can’t just fire people for no good reason. That set off the “oh shit” panic in the government that eventually led to DADT repeal, since it was clear that if legislators didn’t repeal it, courts would. And we can’t have that!
So, today’s announcement puts a stop to all that fuss and bother, with Witt the big winner and DADT the big loser.
Hooray for Major Witt, but booooo for DADT repeal having been signed into law but still not yet taking effect. It’s unclear when the Major Witts and Lieutenant Chois of the world will finally be able to serve — possibly by the end of the year? And even once DADT is dead and gone, the fight’s still not over, since the Army can still discharge trans soldiers without cause.