After a highly decorated 18-year career in the Air Force, Major Margaret Witt was discharged based on an allegation that she had engaged in sexual conduct with another woman: a civilian with whom she was in a committed relationship, in their home, miles from any military base. The ACLU of Washington sued, claiming that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and its application to Witt, violated her rights of liberty and equal protection. She won her case in 2010 and settled with the Air Force in 2011. The success of the Witt case at the Ninth Circuit and the district court contributed to Congress's passage of legislation finally allowing the executive branch to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Witt is ready to tell her story with co-writer Tim Connor in an upcoming memoir, TELL: Love, Defiance, and the Military Trial at the Tipping Point for Gay Rights, on sale Oct. 3, 2017.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
In 1993 Margie Witt was a young Air Force nurse chosen as the face of the "Crossing into the Blue" recruitment campaign. This was the same year President Clinton's plan for gays to serve openly in the military was quashed by an obdurate Congress, resulting in the blandly cynical political compromise known as Don't Ask Don't Tell. Contrary to its intent, DADT had the perverse effect of making it harder for gay servicemen and women to fight expulsion, and over the next 17 years more than 13,000 gay soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, marines, and coast guards were removed from military service. That is, until Margie Witt's landmark case put a stop to it. TELL: Love, Defiance, and the Military Trial at the Tripping Point for Gay Rights is a memoir of the decorated US Air Force officer whose case overturned the ban on gays in the military.
TELL is the riveting chronicle of Major Margaret Witt's decorated military career and dedication as a front-line flight nurse, and of her love and devotion to her partner ( now wife ) Laurie Johnson. Tell captures the tension and drama of a politically-charged legal battle that directly led to the Congressional repeal of the controversial law, and helped pave the way for the suite of landmark political and legal victories for gay rights that followed.
TELL is a personal account and detailed explanation of the end of DADT. What's luminous about this story is the joyful resolve of Margie and Laurie, and how that ultimately inspires and sustains all the other people in their story. Judge Leighton originally ruled against Witt, but it was her personal story and the love and support of her family that changed his mind. "He knew his decision would have historic ramifications," writes Witt. "But beyond the historic importance, the judge recognized the transformative power of love and how one person's passion for justice can elevate us all."
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Major Margaret Witt is a decorated twenty-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. She is currently a rehabilitation supervisor for the Portland VA Health Care System in Portland, Oregon.
Tim Connor is an investigative reporter specializing in legal and science journalism.