End of 'don't ask, don't tell' hits home for two Wash. state women

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by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on December 18, 2010 at 6:33 PM

WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. - The flag flies differently now for Margaret Cammermeyer, or Grethe, as she likes to be called.

"This is a huge day," she said.

The Senate voted to overturn the military's ban on openly gay troops and sent the bill to President Barack Obama. He's expected to sign it into law next week, ending the 17-year policy known as "don't ask, don't tell."

Nearly two decades ago, Colonel Cammermeyer, a chief nurse, was kicked out the Army after saying she was a lesbian.

Her battle for reinstatement inspired a movie, not to mention thousands of homosexuals still serving in silence in the U.S. military. At least until Saturday's vote in the Senate.

"I had to leave when the final count came because, as you can see, I can't keep from weeping," said Cammermeyer.

But today, two Margarets on two ends of Washington state bookend the battle again don't ask don't tell.

"Soak this in, stand a little taller, be a little prouder, because your service has been validated," said Air Force Major Margaret Witt.

Witt fought the last four years for reinstatement after she was outed. This fall, a judge ruled her discharge unconstitutional.

"I think if anything, the decision today will bring more cohesiveness to the military. People won't have to lie anymore," she said.

And in between the congratulatory phone calls, Grethe Cammermeyer says the flag today belongs to both of them.

"The Margarets are sort of putting the beginning and the end on this policy," she said. "Now it feels as though I represent the flag and the flag represents me, and it's a wonderful feeling."

President Obama is expected to sign the bill to repeal don't ask don't tell next week.

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