HRC Blog

Settlement Reached in DADT Discharge Case

Today, after years of battling the Department of Defense about the unconstitutionality of her discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Major Margaret Witt reached a settlement with the Department of Justice that allows her to retire with full benefits and requires the Department of Defense to remove her “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discharge from her military record. In addition, the Department of Justice agreed to drop its appeal of the federal district court decision that found “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was unconstitutional as it applied to Major Witt.

Major Witt served 18 years in the U.S. Air Force as a flight nurse receiving numerous distinctions. She was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” two years short of being eligible for full retirement benefits because the military received a tip that she was in a long-term relationship with a female civilian. Major Witt’s distressing story is all too common under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

On December 22, 2010, President Obama signed into law a bill finally clearing the path for ending the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.  According to the repeal law, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be repealed after the President, Secretary of Defense, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify to Congress that the Department of Defense is prepared for repeal. Recent testimony by military officials before the House Armed Services Committee indicates that certification will occur in the upcoming months.  After certification occurs, there is a 60 day waiting period that must elapse before DADT is repealed once and for all.

We thank Major Witt for her bravery in challenging the constitutionality of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  In addition, we applaud the impressive advocacy work of the ACLU-Washington attorneys that represented Major Witt.

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