Steve Ralls

Glad To See Her There

Filed By Steve Ralls | May 22, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Air Force, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Margaret Witt, military, PFLAG

In an important ruling that could facilitate the beginning of the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Air Force Major Margaret Witt can have her day in court to challenge the military ban on lesbian and gay troops. In a decision released yesterday, the court found that the military may be able to maintain the federal law that bars open service by gay troops, but can only do so "to advance an important governmental interest."

It is clear, however, that dismissing qualified gay service members advances only the interest of prejudice and discrimination. As PFLAG board member, and retired Air Force Colonel, Dan Tepfer pointed out in his recent op-ed calling for the law's repeal, more than 12,000 troops have been fired from the armed forces since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was first implemented. And, as Tepfer noted, the law has a very real impact on families, too.

"Imagine . . . Before work, a military mom takes her pre-schooler to the base child-care facility," Tepfer wrote. "Before they hug good-bye, she reminds her child, as she does every day, 'Don't tell anyone, not even the other kids, about your mommy.' She knows an overheard comment could jeopardize her career."

Recruiting and keeping good troops - regardless of sexual orientation - makes for good family policy, too. Do the mothers and fathers who send their sons and daughters off to the warzone care whether the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine providing back-up and support to keep their child safe is gay or straight? Of course not. They just want the best person on the job. And that is borne out in Witt's experience, too.

"Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation," she said yesterday. "They were just glad to see me there."

And we should all be glad to see her there, too. Witt, who has been on duty for nearly 20 years in the Air Force, most recently served as a flight nurse. Her skill, talent and dedication was put to use every day saving lives and treating the sick. The 9th Circuit yesterday called Witt "an outstanding Air Force officer," and her record reflects it.

Every American with a loved on in the armed forces should celebrate Witt's important victory. Her battle to topple this very un-American law means that sons and daughters on the frontlines will be safer . . . and mothers and fathers at home can sleep a little better knowing that top-notch personnel like Witt are always there.

PFLAG congratulates Major Witt and her counsel from the American Civil Liberties Union. And we're looking forward to her day in court, where she will at last be able to make the case to end this law.

While the Major may be more accustomed to hospital rooms than court rooms, we'll also be glad to see her there.

Originally posted at the PFLAG National Blog.

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This is a great step towards the end of DADT. Many thanks to Major Witt and the ACLU for keeping up the fight!

This is spectacular news. This will be the end of DADT, I predict.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 22, 2008 11:34 PM

I am telling my partner. He spent 13 years in the Air Force before leaving in 1959. Interestingly he formed a gay network of non sexual "buddies" who looked out for one another. he flew jet interceptors and had gay mechanics servicing his plane.

What frightens me about the end of DADT is the possibility of sabotage of the equipment of the "out" soldier. The military culture is so stratified that they could easily kill the known gay in "friendly fire." As much as I hate evil in all it's forms there would need to be a phase in of reeducation starting from the top brass going right to the raw eighteen year old recruit. It would be a massive effort that I doubt the military would be very enthusiastic about undertaking--translation--foot dragging. Consider the difficulty of women who have been raped in the military. Much "consciousness raising" needs to be in place as a new policy is implemented.

I agree that there will need to be a great deal of education to accompany the repeal of DADT, just as there was (is?) a great need for diversity training as the military incorporated women in their ranks. However, as you pointed out, there will be much 'foot-dragging' in this area, and there will be tragic, unfortunate incidents that occur. But I hope they will be prosecuted as hate crimes, as they should be. As you said, it has to start with a top-down attitude readjustment. This is one of the reasons that this year's elections are so important. Having a Democratic president who is supportive of the DADT repeal, combined with majority in the House and Senate, will give the repeal a chance to gain a foothold in friendly territory.

As the proverb says:

May you live in interesting times

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 23, 2008 12:22 AM

I hope it’s true that DADT, the bigoted holdover from the Clintons administration is in trouble. Although it makes you wonder why the Democrats, who controlled congress for the last two years, couldn’t even begin to muster enough votes in their party to repeal it. If it does get the ax it won’t be because the Democrats and Republicans have developed a sudden interest in the well being of GLBT and other service members. That’s unlikely given their common determination to keep them and all the GI's in the Middle East securing hegemony for US petroleum producers using genocide as their weapon of choice.

These politicians are comfortable with US soldiers getting mauled and killed by the Iraqi insurgents (providing their own children aren't involved). The GI casualty toll is now 4079 dead and 29,978 wounded, about half of them seriously. They’re only interest is in getting enough cannon fodder to continue the genocide in Iraq, which under Clinton was more properly called an infanticide because it murdered roughly half a million children, plus the additional million or more Iraqis murdered by Bush's invasion and occupation.

We should do everything in our power to defend the rights and well being of our GLBT brothers and sisters in the armed forces and everything we can to convince others not to join the armed forces and keep out of the mass murder going on there.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 23, 2008 6:33 AM

Not being computer savvy enough I will quote by hand:

"They're only interest is in getting enough cannon fodder to continue the genocide in Iraq, which under Clinton was more properly called an infanticide because it murdered roughly half a million children..."


Bush 1 was at war, Clinton maintained a no fly zone, Bush 2 was at war...

Oops, I think I have to clean some more bird poop off Sara's porch.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 23, 2008 12:24 PM

Check out the amazingly arrogant and ahistorical approach of the following from Robert Ganshorn:

"They're only interest is in getting enough cannon fodder to continue the genocide in Iraq, which under Clinton was more properly called an infanticide because it murdered roughly half a million children..."
Bush 1 was at war, Clinton maintained a no fly zone, Bush 2 was at war...”

The “Huh?” is a poor attempt at deception. The denial of the fundamentally identical roles of the Bushes and the Clintons is simply not true and not even an approximation of the truth. The Clinton Administration did a lot more that maintain a no fly zone and everyone in the world knew about it except, it appears, the ooccasional agony aunt.

I was not exaggerating in the least when I referred to the first genocide against the Iraqis, the Clinton/Blair genocide, as an infanticide. The figure of 170,000 Iraqi children dead is the lowest figure attributed to Bill Clinton’s efforts to cause regime change in Iraq by murdering children. In the late 1990's Clinton, with his lapdog Blair in tow, followed the lead of Bush1 openly lied about the existence of Iraqi WMD's. He called on the UN (to cover his ass) to enforce an embargo on food and medicines to prompt, as he said, the Iraqi people towards "regime change". He also ordered multiple days of missile attacks and bombing raids which produced civilian causalities. But by far the largest number of causalities was from the food and drug embargo. The effects were horrific, frequently reported and thoroughly documented.

1999 - UNICEF, noting that “children under five are dying at more than twice the rate they were ten years ago” said Iraq was suffering from an “ongoing humanitarian emergency. “

2000 - The BBC reported that infant mortality had “more than doubled, rising well beyond 100 per 1,000 live births” according to scientists at the London School of Hygeine and Tropical Medicine.

2001 - The Nation magazine reported that “Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) study in Iraq wrote to The Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Society, asserting that sanctions were responsible for the deaths of 567,000 Iraqi children.”

2003 – The Seattle Post Intelligencer said that updating the analysis of the Clinton infanticide by Richard Garfield, a health specialist at Columbia University gave a figure for 800,000 dead Iraqi children.

This awful infanticide was defended by Clintons UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, darling of the liberals. Here is a partial transcript of that interview.

Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.”

If people wonder why teh left and the antiwar movement despises both Democrats and Republicans you need look no further. Albrights callous answer is a typical liberal Democratic answer, cold, uncaring and demonstrating their ruthless willingness to kill anyone for oil hegemony, a goal shared by Bush, Obama, Billery and McCain. It current incarnation is the concept of "phased withdrawal." In LBJ's time they said ‘We destroyed those villages to save them from communism.”

How is it that some who deceptively claim to be for GLBT rights can end up on the side of mass murderers like LBJ and Clinton.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 24, 2008 8:32 AM

Oh, my dear, my oh my... With All Due Respect...

To follow this type of logic one would first have to believe that the Bush's & the Clinton's knowingly worked hand in hand to specifically torture and murder defenseless children.

Saddam is, of course, blameless in the lack of medical care going to these children. After all, all he could do is rebuild his many palaces bombed by Bush 1 to perfection, and have a cache of 300 million dollars to be discovered by American Troops in one of them, that was given to the treasury of the Iraqi people. This figure would not include the money that doubtless languishes in a Swiss bank account(s)somewhere near Geneva.

He also maintained an elaborate police network,(driving brand new Ford Taurus vehicles) special guard network, elite military network, and the general army. (most in number and least in capabilities)

Remember, I do not even like the war or how we got in it, but I know that much.

Saddam had free unfettered ability to import any and all medicines his people needed through Jordan. Iran and Kuwait might have liked to help, but after Saddam warred with both of them they weren't having many cultural exchanges.

Convoys of trucks went through Jordan unchecked leading up to the war. Anything that HE chose for his people to receive they would have received. You, sir, have just built the argument of the other side. The PROBLEM was neither the Clinton's or the Bush's in this narrow argument you make. It was in a sadistic, despotic, torturer who enslaved his country while personally enriching himself.

Saddam never stopped selling oil, he just did not sell as much as he could have sold without sanctions. He could have chosen to feed his people. He could have chosen to insure adequate medical care. He could have chosen not to torture. If you were a Kurd the last thing you would have wanted was a Saddam with a free hand. They were killed with the help of "chemical Ali" by the middle east's only person to ever publicly pattern themselves after Josef Stalin.

Regarding LBJ, the man was not perfect, I have already stated that you should look to the mess left by DeGaulle (in French Indochina) to us, and let us not forget the Chinese and Soviet Russia, during Nam. You choose to lay it all at LBJ's door and I think that is unfair. I do believe the man is a tragic figure, who wanted to do much good, but was caught up in a bad situation. His accomplishments are too many to go into here. (Mentioning one, real voting rights for persons of color, because it was the right thing to do, even if it gave the south to the Republican party.)

Bill, I respect you, and like many of your ideas until they get beyond the realm of the subject of a posting. I find many of your ideas interesting.

The subject is Major Witt right now. It is not to do with anything else. In future, whenever you stray off point of a posting, I shall have no comment upon it or you. In fact Bill, to insure that I do not make a mistake again, I will not even read your comments. If you can return that favor I would appreciate it.

Good luck to you in all things.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 24, 2008 3:46 PM

When I first read Ganshorns’s "Huh" comments I figured maybe he’d been in a coma during the nineties. He denied that the Clinton/Bush embargo had murdered between 200,000 and 800,000 Iraqi children. Even Madeline Albright didn’t bother to deny it.

“Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.”

But now I realize it’s just because he’s a right-wing Clinton supporter. Hillary Clintons always supported the Bill Clinton/George Bush genocide and out of loyalty Ganshorn tags along with her. His talking points are straight out of the Albright/Rove Big Book of Lies And Excuses For Invading and Colonizing Iraq .

Like the Clintons themselves some of their supporters are much closer to the Republican Party than they imagine. Not all the Dixiecrats are from south of the Mason-Dixon Line and not all of them left with Strom Thurmond.

As for the subject of the post it’s DADT and the military. I feel obliged and justified in pointing out that we should do all we can to prevent our brothers and sisters from being involved in the genocide. I think thats not an option; it's our duty just as much as demanding that the Democrats scrap DADT and instead pass the Matthew Sheppard hate crimes bill that they recently scrapped. Ganshorn disagrees with my right to say that.

Hissy fits and ‘ignoring’ are not particularly valuable in discussing our agenda and tactics. They're simply a sign that some are unable to defend their ideas. Ganshorn and other rightists will just have to accept that the GLBT left and the antiwar movements are here to stay. Unfortunately, the reality of the ongoing genocidal war will keep us in business for a long time. I wish that weren’t so but…

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 25, 2008 3:32 AM


Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am "glad to see her there" too. I apologize to you, for any straying off the point, that may be attributable to me.