The long, inspiring and ultimately successful challenge Major Witt made to the Air Force and the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law is over.
Seven years after Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt was suspended under Department of Defense anti-gay restrictions, the decorated flight nurse has settled with the Pentagon.
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...
Speaking Tuesday, Witt said that, after years fighting to return to her unit, she is ready to focus on her family and pursue other opportunities.
Since the military began proceedings to remove her from the service, she said her "mission" has been to bring down Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
"It's been my honor to accept that mission for the past seven years," said Witt, flanked by her parents, attorneys and partner, Laurie McChesney, on Tuesday. "Today, my mission is complete."
Major Witt, a decorated Air Force Officer with an 18-year career, was discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell in 2006.
Last year, a federal judge ruled that Witt's dismissal was invalid, and ordered her reinstated. But the Air Force appealed the decision, leaving the Major in limbo until today's settlement announcement.
Here are some diaries about the case as it unfolded:
Congratulations to Major Witt and many thanks to her for never giving up in pursuing what may, at times, have seemed like an endless battle against injustice and bigotry. I had hoped to see her back in the Air Force proudly serving even before the final nail is driven into the DADT coffin -- but if this is what she wants then this is what she deserves.
In other DADT Trial News, Log Cabin Republicans filed a new appeal to the Ninth Circuit today. They are asking that the Ninth's ruling last year staying Judge Phillips' decision back in September, 2010 -- which declared Don't Ask, Don't Tell unconstitutional -- be vacated. They are making the argument that the Government is no longer contesting the constitutionality of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and therefore the Government has no prospect of winning the case:
"To obtain the stay, the government had to show, and promised to show, a likelihood of success on the merits, namely the constitutionality of the "Don't Ask,Don't Tell" statute, 10 U.S.C. § 654. The merits briefing on this appeal was completed on April 28, 2011. The briefing makes clear that the government has abandoned that claim and no longer argues that Don't Ask, Don't Tell is constitutional.
Accordingly, the government cannot show a likelihood of success on the merits and there is no basis to stay the district court's judgment. While the stay is in effect, the government remains free to, and does, conduct investigations and discharges, and otherwise violate the constitutional rights of current and prospective members of our armed forces, under an unconstitutional statute. The order staying the district court's injunction should be vacated. In the alternative, if this motion to vacate is denied, Log Cabin requests that the argument of this appeal be set on an expedited basis. The government opposes this motion."
I commend them for their tenacity. While I doubt that they have any significant chance of success, perhaps it will put just a little more pressure on the White House to
GET THIS OVER WITH BY SIGNING THE DAMNED CERTIFICATION DOCUMENTS
Sure, it's a lot of fun watching Republicans make asses of themselves in the House and in the Presidential candidate debates over this issue. But -- really -- there are no lack of issues for them to do this to themselves with. For all we know, Mr. President, once DADT vanishes the Republicans could well try to undo the 40-hour work week next.