Air Force Major Margaret Witt (Ret.) sued the Military over Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which prohibited discrimination against closeted homosexuals but barred openly gay, lesbian, trans or bisexual individuals from service. Her decision to confront the 17 year policy helped overturn the military’s treatment of gays and lesbians and ushered in a new era of acceptance.. This era of tolerance is being challenged by President Trump’s attempt to stop trans people from serving.
Her book is “Tell: Love Defiance and The Military Trial At The Tipping Point for Gay Rights.” Co-authored with journalist Tim Connor.
She appears September 26th at The Museum of Flight in Seattle at 7:30, presented by Town Hall Seattle and The Museum of Flight.
Over Skype, I talked to Major Margaret Witt, the Tacoma native and decorated air force frontline nurse, about her long battle to be treated as full-fledged member of the service, worthy of her rank and her commitment.
Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin served with honor under George Washington at Valley Forge. But in 1778, Enslin was drummed out of the military. His crime? He was homosexual. He wouldn’t be the last.
For many years, gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans were deemed by the military to be unfit for service. Over one hundred thousand service members had been discharged for being gay by 1994, when Congress crafted the unwieldy compromise of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. It didn’t end the expulsions. For the 17 years DADT was in place, more than 13,000 members of the air force, coast guard, army, navy and marines, were removed from military service for their sexual orientation. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was overturned by the courts due in large measure to the decision by Reserve Air Force Major Margaret Witt to fight her discharge.