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Congratulations to Major Margaret Witt and Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 09/06/11
Last updated on: 09/06/11
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Margarethe Cammermeyer presided over a retirement ceremony honoring Major Margaret Witt and Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach.

On September 4, 2011, less than three weeks before Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), the military policy that prohibits gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly, is officially repealed, Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer presided over a retirement ceremony honoring Major Margaret Witt and Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach.

The ceremony was particularly poignant because Cammermeyer, Witt, and Fehrenbach are all three heroes of the movement to end the discriminatory policy. They fought back and resisted their discharges.

Cammermeyer, a distinguished nurse, was discharged from the National Guard in 1992, but sued and won reinstatement in 1994. She officially retired with full honors and benefits in 1997.

Major Witt, a decorated flight nurse, was discharged under DADT in 2006, and sued for reenlistment. After a long legal fight, she not only won her case but established a key legal precedent, the "Witt standard," which requires that the military must prove (as opposed to simply asserting) that openly gay servicemembers actually impair unit cohesion and damage morale.

The Witt standard was key not only in the success of Major Witt's own battle, which resulted in her reinstatement in 2010, but it was also crucial in the Log Cabin Republicans suit that resulted in the declaration that the DADT policy is unconstitutional.

When he was targeted for discharge in 2008, decorated fighter pilot Lt. Colonel Fehrenbach sued before the discharge became official. He won an injunction against the processing of the discharge and ultimately negotiated a settlement that allowed him to retire on his own terms, with full honors and benefits. As Colonel Cammermeyer remarked at the ceremony, "he has worn the uniform as the officer and pilot and human being that he is, and said 'Take me on.'"

At the ceremony, another casualty of DADT, Army Captain Jonathan Hopkins, who was discharged in 2010, remarked of Witt and Fehrenbach, "Today we have honored two Airmen who have fought not just for their country in battle, but also for civil rights in a cause far greater than themselves."

Witt and Fehrenback will officially retire on October 1, 2011.

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