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It Took 7 Years, but the Air Force is Finally Giving Lesbian Nurse Her Retirement Benefits

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.

By:           matt baume
On:           May 10, 2011
Tagged: , , , ,

  • 4 Comments
    • tinkerbell
      tinkerbell

      MAJ Witt is/was an Air Force nurse, not physician. Yeaaaaa for her. Congrats, major, you go girl!

      May 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Spirit of Harry Hay
      The Spirit of Harry Hay

      We can, and should, support the equal treatment of LGBT people in the federal government’s largest employer WITHOUT also supporting the use of the military to murder Arabs and Muslims for oil (which is what they’re doing, by the way). To that end, can we stop saying that LGB troops are “serving” their country? LGB troops are serving time, not serving “their” country. After all, no Afghani or Iraqi has ever called me a faggot, but there are folks in Congress who have. Similarly, no Afghani and no Iraqi voted for DOMA or for DADT and Afghanis and Iraqis are not fighting to keep me as a second class citizen, while members of both parties here in the US are. I’m still looking for someone to explain to me how queers can “fight for freedoms” they don’t have.

      I understand that we may be confused by HRC’s homo-patriotism/nationalism, so I would suggest checking out Iraq Veterans Against War for an idea of how real soldiers and veterans can both oppose war AND demand the repeal of DADT (http://www.ivaw.org/) and to meet some of the hottest gay-friendly straight soldiers you’ll find.

      We do not have to support illegal war in order to demand equal treatment under the law. In fact, I don’t see how anyone CAN support illegal war (and the theft of funds for AIDS/HIV prevention, community resources, social and health services and access to education that it takes to make illegal war) AND demand equal treatment under the law. Can queers in fact demand “equal treatment under the law” while murdering queers in Iraq and Afghanistan or remaining silent when Arab and Muslim queers in the US are under attack?

      To paraphrase Malcom X, if you give me a gun and tell me to go fight the terrorists, I won’t have to go all the way to Iraq or Afghanistan to find them.

      May 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      @The Spirit of Harry Hay: said…

      “We can, and should, support the equal treatment of LGBT people in the federal government’s largest employer WITHOUT also supporting the use of the military to murder Arabs and Muslims for oil (which is what they’re doing, by the way). To that end, can we stop saying that LGB troops are “serving” their country?”
      _________________________________________________

      Considering that Afghanistan has no oil, that we aren’t taking Iraqui Oil, and that we haven’t signed any additional deals for extraction etc… with Lybia, can you please get your facts straight?

      Do I want us over there? No, but just because you don’t like the fact that we are, please don’t try to pretend that our troops are somehow secretly running around Afghaniztan finding oil that nobody else seems to know about.

      If we WERE over there stealing oil I have a feeling our trade deficiet wouldn’t be quite so large.

      May 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan brickman
      alan brickman

      a true sign of progress…

      May 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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