Phil Reese

Col. Grethe Cammermeyer tells it like it is

Filed By Phil Reese | May 27, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Congress, Don't Ask Don't Tell, fasting, House of Representatives, hunger strike, laws, legislation, lt. Dan Choi, military, Military Readiness Enhancement Act, politics, POTUS, President Obama, protests, religion, repeal, Senate, Serving in Silence

The retired Colonel — the highest-ranking discharged gay or lesbian under DADT — gives us an insider's perspective on the Lundon Calling podcast.

7-gc-1.jpgShe was the subject of of the 1995 Emmy-award winning TV movie, Serving In Silence, starring Glenn Close, and after winning her case in the US Appellate Court, she went back into the military and served as an open lesbian until 1997.

Our 90 minute conversation in focused mainly on the issue of lesbian and gay discrimination in the military, but we discussed a wide range of topics from her run for United States Congress and her parents' participation in the Nazi resistance in WWII-era Norway to political parties and religion. You should know by now that no topic is off-limits for this show!

Most important to consider about interviewing Col. Cammermeyer, however, is that this interview gives us perspective on the eve of a Senate Armed Services Committee vote to approve the Military Readiness Enhancement Act's language, and attach that language that would end the law banning gay and lesbian military service to the "must pass" Defense Authorization Act.

Experts say votes to attach the bill to the authorization are imminent in the House and Senate this Thursday morning, and, barring any Republican motion to recommit, we may see an end to the US law banning gay service members this year.

As we discussed on the show, the ball would move to the Executive Branch's court. The compromise reached Monday morning does not include all of the pieces that activists had pushed for. Gone is the nixing of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the end of the ban on sodomy, and nowhere is there the addition of gays and lesbians to non-discrimination policy.

What does exist, however, is a clear path to a full repeal by empowering the Pentagon to enact these changes when Secretary Gates's study group concludes and reports its findings in December. Further pressure on Secretary Gates' boss, the President of the United States, would not be ill-placed at the moment, since there will be no one in Congress to blame anymore if the discharges do not end.

Meanwhile, until the Pentagon takes its promised actions, apparently Lt. Dan Choi and other activists are planning a hunger strike after the Defense Authorization is passed lifting the US law banning gay and lesbian personnel. We're all hoping the Pentagon moves swiftly so that Dan doesn't get too skinny!

Finally, check out Adam Bink's great post here about what you can be doing to help assure the repeal of the military's ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

Crossposted over at

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How did she get back in the military? And don't just tell me I need to listen to the show... :)

I could be a REAL ass and tell you to watch the movie then! (Glenn Close plays her) but I'll just tell ya--she fought the discharge and won in 1994 in Federal Court, upheld in Appellate Court. Both found the pre-DADT military ban unconstitutional, but for some reason that did not apply to any other discharges. She reentered service in 1994, now bound by DADT. The movie aired in 1995, Glenn Close and Judy Davis both won emmys later that year. So even though her lesbianism was all over the news, she had a best-selling book out during that time, and she was even the inspiration for emmy-award winning roles, noone could "ask" and she couldn't "tell."

How crazy is that?!

If you listen to the podcast (haha, got ya now!), you can hear what she told someone from the Pentagon when they called her about a promotion to General!

for what it's worth, i have two godkids, and their mom was actually a nurse at fort lewis under col. cammermeyer. as far as having her for a boss, she had nothing but nice things to say.

by the way, i was doing a quick google and found this announcement of her wedding in a 2004 edition of "the connector", a newsletter published for the army's nursing community:

"COL Grethe Cammermeyer announces that she and her longtime companion and partner Diane Divelbess were married in Portland, Oregon, on 19 March. She says she acknowledges pushing the social limits, but has fulfilled a long time dream of equal treatment under the law.