Politics & Government

Lesbian Air Force nurse testifies about 'don't ask, don't tell' policy

When Maj. Margaret Witt was an Air Force flight nurse, her understanding of the government's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was simple, she testified Monday in U.S. District Court.

"They wouldn't ask, and I wasn't supposed to tell," she said.

As long as she kept her sexual orientation private, Witt said, she assumed she would be left alone to do her job.

But the Air Force DID ask, after the husband of a civilian woman with whom Witt was having an affair sent an e-mail to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper in 2004, telling him Witt was a lesbian.

"I was absolutely shocked I was being asked anything at all," Witt said.

She was suspended from the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, a reserve unit at McChord Air Force Base, for "homosexual conduct," and was honorably discharged in 2006 after 18 years of service.

Witt subsequently sued the Air Force, wanting her job and benefits back and challenging the constitutionality of her dismissal.

After a week of testimony in the nationally watched trial, Witt at last took the stand Monday, attracting a surge of media and Witt supporters to Judge Ronald Leighton's courtroom in Tacoma.

On the stand, Witt was poised and articulate, maintaining her composure for most of 3 1/2 hours.

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