Lesbian seeking return to Air Force testifies‎

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by DREW MIKKELSEN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Drewmikk

KING5.com

Posted on September 20, 2010 at 11:03 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 20 at 5:46 PM

TACOMA, Wash. - An Air Force flight nurse has taken the stand in Tacoma in a lawsuit over the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Major Margaret Witt talked about her 18-year career and how she was promoted and received awards.

Witt also said she was in tears when she was told she was being suspended for homosexual conduct in 2004.

She was "absolutely shocked" when she was asked about a relationship she was having with a woman because she was familiar with the don't ask don't tell policy.

She denied being in a homosexual relationship because "They couldn't ask and I wasn't supposed to tell."

When asked why she wants to be allowed back in the Air Force as a nurse Witt said, "We're at war and I have the skills."

"I miss being able to be the one the soldier looks at and I can do something for," she said. "It kills me not to be there."

The government's lawyers said Witt "compromised her integrity and her ability to lead" when having homosexual relationships with two women in the Air Force and a married woman.

Across the street from the courthouse, opinions were split on the "don't ask" policy.

"I think it's the best of both worlds because they can be in the military and I don't have to worry about it because I don't know they are," said one person.

"I used to think it's a good policy, but times are changing and that probably needs to change too," said another.

In a new KING 5 News statewide poll taken Monday, 52 percent feel gays should be allowed to serve openly, 37 percent said don't ask don't tell should remain in effect and 9 percent want an all-out ban on gays.

When asked if military members who reveal they are homosexual should be reinstated, 66 percent said yes and 27 percent said no.

Witt's case has already prompted one important ruling, in which an appeals court panel held that the military can't dismiss someone for being gay unless it shows that the firing was necessary to further military goals.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton is now weighing whether Witt's firing met that standard.

Closing arguments could come this week.

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