the don't tell show

Is A Federal Court About to Let Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt Serve Her Country As An Out Lesbian?

Former Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt was a 17-year veteran of the armed services until 2004, when the husband of a woman she was dating (scandal!) told her superiors about the same-sex relationship. Three years later, Witt was fired under DADT. And she sued over it! And today, she’s going to court! Another DADT trial, you say? Yes, I respond.

The suit almost didn’t happen. It was dismissed until she appealed to the Ninth Circuit, which reinstated her claim in 2008, demanding the government needed to ably prove it had the right to invade her private life, and that kicking her out “is the only way to significantly advance an important policy.” And so what can she hope to accomplish?

If Major Witt prevails in the district court, she will become the first woman allowed to serve openly as a lesbian since don’t ask, don’t tell was enacted in 1993. The law, however, would continue to apply to other service members. “It’s not as if she would go around telling people,” said James E. Lobsenz, a lawyer who, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, is representing Major Witt. “But if someone asked, ‘Are you a lesbian,’ she could respond, ‘yes,’ and not be thrown out.”

Naturally, Obama’s Justice Department is fighting her case, just as it did with Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States, but they’re going up against Witt’s witnesses — her former colleagues — who will testify that ousting her hurt morale, rather than improving it.

The case from Witt, who remains partnered with the woman who left her tattle tale husband, follows the balls-to-the-wall decision from District Court Judge Virginia Phillips, who struck down DADT as unconstitutional. And depending on which way this one swings, I’m seriously going to be running low on my personal supply of confetti.


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    Oh, this is great. So, based on the way this article is written, it is now the ex-husband who is at fault for reporting the affair with his then wife. MAJ Witt violates UCMJ by committing adultery, but claims she was booted because she’s a lesbian. What a crock. It doesn’t matter if she is straight or gay. Her conduct was unbecoming of a militay officer. THAT’S WHY SHE WAS GIVEN THE BOOT.

  • Steve

    Technically, Zoe Dunning is probably the first case tried under DADT. She came out shortly before to protest it, but was allowed to serve for over a decade after it. The DoD just decided that her defense would never be allowed again.

    If the Air Force is really arguing in court that she should be fired for having an affair, I hope they get bitchslapped for it. It’s certainly unprofessional, but a straight service member would never be fired for that alone.

  • Steve

    People generally don’t get discharged for adultery. Relieved of command, maybe. A letter of reprimand or some other punishment. But not discharged.

    The name Kelly Flynn ring a bell? She was the first female B-52 pilot and discharged a few years later. She claimed it was because she had an affair for a married civilian and that there were double standards. However, that wasn’t the only reason. She also disobeyed an order to end the affair and for obstructing an investigation. If people are fired for adultery, that’s rarely if ever the only reason.


    STEVE POST: Pal, you are so wrong. I’m a retiree and can tell you that I’ve seen dozens of straight individuals court marshaled for having adulterous affairs. And, they were given their walking papers. Your statement is not based on fact.

  • Dallas David

    When I was in the USAF in the 1970’s, my barracks was chuck full of adulterers.
    I was never stationed at Clark AFB in the Phillipines, but I heard plenty of jovial stories of “Clap Call” (3 times a week) where all the GI’s would line up at the clinic for a double-dose of pennicillin for the VD they picked up from the locals.
    I’d like to see someone dig up some statistics on the rate of VD in the military . . .

  • Michael Ejercito

    It seems that there are also allegations of adultery. As Peter Phipps alleged, “By committing adultery, she compromised her integrity and her ability to lead. Plaintiff set an example of a disregard for Air Force policies.”

    Should the adultery allegations be accepted as fact, this would change the dynamic of this case. @QUENTIN A. DIGGS:
    If Witt’s adultery is proven as a matter of fact, then applying DADT to that conduct is constitutional.

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  • Foamheart

    1. She resigned instead with an honorable discharge instead of facing courts-martial after intentionally breaking the rules she swore to defend. She did knowingly and with premeditation, pursued another person’s legal spouse. Officers are no longer allowed such moral turpitude, and especially when the husband sent a letter to the Air Force Chief of Staff directly! UCMJ Art.133, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Her career was then over if she was a hetro or a homo. And yes, if you care to look, there are just as many or more hetro’s allowed to resign under similar circumstances.
    2. The loss of her retirement and benefits, She is a reservist, her full time job is with the Veterans Admin. Which recognizes her active duty time served as their own towards retirement. You retire from the government, not from each branch.
    3. This is purely politically and financially based at minimum a book, or she could catch the talk show circuit. She gains nothing by reinstatement, she will not be promoted, and her quarterly evaluation due to the adulterous affair will no longer allow that. If she were to finish her twenty years she would receive no different government retirement. Except possibly Base Exchange privileges, which are seldom worth the extra fuel to get to the savings.
    4. I have no problem with or without DADT, the military but it in as a stop gap when implemented to protect those who today are wanting it changed.
    5. I was a serviceman before and after DADT, it made no difference to the rank and file, it was only to protect those who could have come under unjust scrutiny due to their preferences. You wave a red flag in front of a bull he’s going to charge.

  • Foamheart

    BTW check why most of these were relieved.

    Last week three more Commanding Officers were relieved of command, plus a carrier COB or Command Master Chief. 11 dismissals of senior commanding officers this year alone were due to Art.133, Conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. There were more, many more, but these are just the Commanding officers of large commands. These are not Ensigns and First Lieutenants, these are not just social faux pauxs. These are our commanding officers including our nuclear and capital warships. Most Academy graduates, raised through the ranks, tested, proven in battle type officers.

    They were not relieved for not doing their jobs, they were relieved for sexual misconduct. They are not limited to male officers either. What has changed? Have the rules? Have the personal? Has the accountability? Is it the availability of information? Accessibility?
    All have changed, but are we not training our officers in these changes as to how to better lead their commands without becoming the target of improprieties? Are we demanding too high of a standard to be an officer and a gentleman by an act of congress?

    The words “Moral Turpitude” seem to have become forgotten, or maybe just no longer deemed important? Do they believe that they are now politicians where these things no longer matter? Maybe that’s the problem, they believe that since they are an “Officer and a Gentleman” by an act of Congress that they should be held to the same standards.

    Some of the Skippers relieved this year at major commands

    Capt. John Titus Jr. was fired Jan. 8 as CO of the Naval Supply Corps School in Georgia for failing to adequately discipline a junior officer accused of inappropriate conduct.

    Capt. Holly Graf was fired Jan. 13 as CO of the Yokosuka, Japan-based cruiser Cowpens after an inspector general’s investigation found problems with her “temperament and demeanor,” a spokesman said.

    Capt. Glen Little was fired as CO of Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C., after he was arrested Jan. 26 on a charge of solicitation of prostitution.

    Cmdr. Scott Merritt was relieved as head of Naval Support Activity North Potomac on Feb. 12 following nonjudicial punishment. Sources told Navy Times the NJP involved fraternization with a junior Navy personnel.

    Cmdr. Timothy Weber, the commanding officer of the Norfolk, Va.-based destroyer Truxtun, was relieved Feb. 17 for having an inappropriate relationship with a female officer in his command, according to a Navy statement

    Capt. William Reavey Jr., CO of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., was fired Feb. 26 for “inappropriate conduct,” officials said.

    Cmdr. Jeff Cima, CO of the Pearl Harbor-based sub Chicago, was relieved of command March 15 for drunkenness and conduct unbecoming an officer, officials said

    Cmdr. Neil Funtanilla, CO of the destroyer The Sullivans, was relieved May 18 in Manama, Bahrain, after a non-judicial hearing found he was “derelict in the performance of his duties.” The destroyer struck a buoy in the Persian Gulf in March.

    Cmdr. Herman Pfaeffle was relieved as CO of the frigate John L. Hall for loss of confidence in his ability to command on June 22 after hitting a pier April 16 in Batumi, Georgia.

    Capt. William Kiestler was relieved June 30 as CO of of Norfolk Naval Shipyard. Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command, cited a loss of confidence in Kiestler’s ability to command.

    Cmdr. Fred Wilhelm was relieved Aug. 12 as CO of the dock landing ship Gunston Hall. Rear Adm. Dave Thomas fired him after Wilhelm was “charged with sexual harassment, maltreatment of a subordinate, simple assault, conduct unbecoming an officer, drunk and disorderly conduct and use of indecent language.”

    Capt. David Schnell was relieved Aug. 15 as CO of the amphibious assault ship Peleliu by Vice Adm. Mark Fox, commander of 5th Fleet. The relief took place “as a result of an investigation into allegations that he acted in an unprofessional manner toward several crew members that was inappropriate, improper and unduly familiar.”

    Cmdr. Mary Ann Giese, CO of of Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station Bahrain, was fired Aug. 21 by Rear Adm. Edward Deets, head of Naval Network Warfare Command, after “a preliminary investigation into allegations that she had been involved in inappropriate relationships with other Navy personnel,” according to a statement from 10th Fleet.

    Navy Capt. Ronald Murray Gero was fired from command of the guided missile submarine Ohio, after an investigation into “improper personal behavior,” Navy Submarine Group 9 said.

    Cmdr. Charles Mansfield, was due to take command of the Mahan following his tour as executive officer, according to Surface Force Atlantic spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban. was relieved late Friday afternoon for striking a subordinate officer while the ship was underway

    Norfolk-based carrier Theodore Roosevelt Command Master Chief David Stitt was relieved by Capt. William Hart, the TR’s commanding officer, as the result of false statements Stitt made to an investigating officer and Hart during the course of an investigation

    And my last bitch, why do today’s reporters insist on fired? You must be hired to be fired, these people joined so they can not be fired only relieved of command. They can be re-assigned, they can submit their resignation, or they can be loss rank, pay or benefits, but they can NOT be fired.

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