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Tag: Margaret Witt

The “Witt Standard”: Former Major Margaret Witt’s DADT trial resumes Monday

(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)

By Karen Ocamb

Margaret WittFormer Air Force Major Margaret Witt made national headlines recently when Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan discussed the significance of the “Witt Standard” during her confirmation hearings. The “Witt Standard” was also peppered throughout Judge Virginia Phillips’ decision Thursday declaring Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional in the federal lawsuit brought by the Log Cabin Republicans.

On Monday, Sept. 13, the lesbian for whom the “Witt Standard” was named will be back in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington court as the decorated U.S. Air Force flight nurse continues to challenge her discharge under DADT. Witt is seeking re-instatement. The trial is expected to last seven days.

Scheduled to testify on Thursday is DADT expert Nathaniel Frank, author of “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America.” Frank was also an expert witness in the Log Cabin Republican’s case before Judge Phillips. In an email to me Thursday night, Frank said this about Phillip’s ruling:

“This judge looked at an enormous amount of factual evidence about this case–over 400 pages of carefully documented data presented by the LCR lawyers, White & Case. And she found that, as many have been saying for years, the policy serves no legitimate governmental purpose, and in fact it is harmful to the military and our troops. This is the most powerful statement yet that DADT is unconstitutional, as well as bad law, and that our country has moved well beyond it.”

White House spokesperson Shin Inouye told LGBT POV:

“The Justice Department is studying the [Phillips] decision, including the question of its scope and immediate effect and we expect them to announce their next steps after that review is completed. The President remains committed to legislative repeal of DADT, and he will continue to work with lawmakers to achieve that goal this fall. And he will continue to work closely with Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on an ongoing study of how to best implement the repeal.”

The Witt case goes back to trial just as the Senate goes back to work – and presumably takes up the Defense Authorization Bill with DADT repeal legislation included. Hopefully the Witt and LCR cases will add momentum to what appears to be inevitable and not cost taxpayers any more in the Justice Department racking up unnecessary court costs.

Here’s a 2008 interview with Witt by station KXLY:–mwFPTc&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Witt has some hypothetical, post hoc rationalization in general, but whether a justification exists for the application of the policy as applied to Major Witt.”

The military has provided no evidence that her sexual orientation or conduct has caused a problem in the performance of her military duties. To the contrary, the ACLU has submitted declarations from military colleagues testifying that her forced absence is harmful to her unit’s morale.

Representing Major Witt are ACLU-WA Legal Director Sarah Dunne and Sher Kung, a Perkins Coie Fellow, and ACLU-WA cooperating attorneys James Lobsenz of Carney Badley Spellman and Aaron Caplan of Loyola Law School. In a previous ACLU case, Lobsenz represented Army Sgt. Perry Watkins, who challenged his dismissal from the military for being gay. In 1989, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that, as a matter of fairness, the Army could not discharge Watkins.


97 Comments September 12, 2010