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Maj. Margaret Witt has settled her landmark lawsuit against "don't ask, don't tell" and will retire with full benefits, according to the ACLU of Washington.
Witt, a decorated flight nurse in the U.S. Air Force, won her reinstatement suit in federal district court last year after she was discharged under "don't ask, don't tell" in 2006.
In 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the ninth circuit ruled that the military must show how Maj. Witt's service would harm military readiness -- a ruling now known as the "Witt Standard."
Terms of the settlement include that Witt will retire with full benefits and that the unlawful discharge will be removed from her service record.
"For the past seven years, I have been fighting for my rights and the rights of other lesbians and gays in the military," Witt said in a statement, reported on the ACLU of Washington's website. "I wish I could have spent that time serving with my peers. Now, with the lawsuit completed, I'm ready to start a new chapter in my life."
Read the ACLU release here.
Below, Maj. Witt's Tuesday statement on her retirement via ACLU:
I'm announcing the final settlement to a lawsuit and the beginning of a new
chapter in my life. When this all started, almost seven years ago, I was devastated. I felt
that I had lost my purpose and my mission. I had trained over half of my life to be ready
when my country and my military family needed me. I sought the advice of Col. Grethe
Cammermeyer. She looked me square in the eye and said, "Major, your mission has
It has been my honor to accept that mission for the past 7 years--to fight, not only for
myself, but also for those members of my extended military family who could not speak
out for themselves.
Today, this part of my mission is complete. It has been my honor to fight for the freedom
of all to serve and to have been a part of such a momentous court battle with the ACLU
and finally the long-awaited repeal of DADT.
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 with another hero of mine, Anna Curran.
I will continue to serve my military family at my job with the Spokane VA hospital. I
will also continue to advocate for my fellow gay and lesbian service members as we
move forward toward full repeal and open service.
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the support I have received during this
fight. Thank you to my partner, Laurie and her children (Dan, Abby and Stacer); my
wonderful parents, my big brother and sister and their families - my nieces Anikka and
Turi are here; my amazing friends (many who are here today - Carla, Kary and Jen), and
especially my fellow service members.
To my 446th AES family - I will never forget your selflessness, kind words and brave
support over all of these difficult years. I have missed you all tremendously.
I am always with you in spirit. You hold a very special place in my heart. Continue to
take care of each other and stay safe.
As I look back, I see that my two-week trial in September turned out to be one of the
most memorable and humbling experiences of my life. Day after day, members of
my unit entered the courtroom and testified that not only had MY presence in the unit
not been negative, but that the presence of other gay members they had served with
throughout their careers had not affected unit cohesion and morale in a negative way
either. The whole two weeks were so overwhelmingly positive that my family and I talk
about what a wonderful experience it was to this day.
I also had the opportunity to attend the signing of the bill repealing DADT in
Washington, DC in December. I cannot begin to tell you what an overwhelming and
awe- inspiring experience that was. I stood among many historical giants in the decades-
long battle for LBGT equality. As I waited in line outside, I was amazed at the parade of
history that was walking by me. Then I realized I was standing in that line too! And I
was standing there with Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Commander Zoe Dunning (two
other pivotal women in this repeal). What a great day - not just gay rights, but for human
Last but definitely not least. I owe everything to these folks right here. Over 14,000
service members have been discharged because of DADT. I was one of the fortunate few
who had a legal team willing to step up and fight. Thank you to the ACLU, my attorneys
Jim Lobsenz, Sarah Dunne, Aaron Caplan and Sher Kung - for believing in me and the
cause. We would not be here today and repeal would not have been possible without you.
There are still many missions to take on. I will continue to speak out in support of full
equality - whether it is in the civilian or military world.