Lesbian Air Force Major agrees to retire

May 10, 2011

A lesbian Air Force Major who was trying to get her job back has decided to retire instead.  Under an agreement reached with the Pentagon, flight nurse Margaret Witt will retire with full benefits and her discharge will be removed from her record.

Witt , who was stationed at McChord Air Base (now Joint Base Lewis-McChord) at the time, was discharged from the Air Force Reserves in 2006.  The reason? The Defense Department’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t tell” policy. Her superiors had learned of her long term relationship with a civilian woman.  Witt  fought the discharge and her suit ended up in federal court in Tacoma.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ordered the Air Force to reinstate Witt.  He said doing so wouldn’t negatively affect morale or cohesion in her unit, as the military had claimed.

But, the military did not put Witt back on duty.

The months dragged on as her attorneys and the government negotiated over her reinstatement.  Finally, the agreement was reached for her to retire instead of return to work.

 At a news conference, she said through tears that the settlement marks the beginning of a new chapter in her life.

"My partner, Laurie, and I have decided that we're ready for our family to move forward.  I am currently enrolled in a doctorate program and this summer I will also begin co-authoring a couple of nursing textbooks," she said.

Witt  says she does take solace in the fact that she helped publicize the need to address the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy.

In December, President Obama repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." However, the restrictions remain in place while the Armed Services work on implementing the change.