One of the best kept secrets in the argument over DADT repeal, one that opponents such as Elaine Donnelly and Tony Perkins refuse to wrap their heads around, is that in many units within our military, there are already gays and lesbians serving openly, without any problems. Granted, they aren’t treated equally on an institutional level, but those who would scaremonger about showering and sleeping arrangements will never tell you that, in much of the military, it just comes down to chain of command. Some gay servicemembers must indeed remain very closeted, but then there are those who are basically out, at least with the people they work with every day, and it’s a non-issue.
So I found it interesting that in the new DADT trial for Major Margaret Witt, a discharged Air Force flight nurse, the lead-off witness stated that outright:
In his years of service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, retired Master Sgt. James Schaffer testified in federal court on Monday, gay and lesbian members of his Air Force Reserve unit bore no stigma.
So in 2004, he was stunned to learn of an Air Force decision to suspend one member of his unit, Maj. Margaret Witt, for homosexual conduct that violated the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
“I felt it was a dishonorable act on the part of the Air Force,” Schaffer testified Monday as the leadoff witness in a U.S. District Court trial to determine whether Witt, who was eventually forced into retirement, should be reinstated with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
He’s damn right that it was a dishonorable act on the Air Force’s part. Master Sgt. Schaffer is basically saying, “we knew she was a lesbian! No one cares!”
I’ve heard that story many times over the years from friends and family in the military, actually. There are untold numbers of our armed forces for whom DADT repeal will change absolutely nothing except that the gays and lesbians they serve with and trust will finally be treated equally under military policy.