Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Other Women Discharged Under DADT Among First to Marry in Washington

Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Other Women Discharged Under DADT Among First to Marry in Washington
Sunnivie Brydum

Two female former soldiers discharged for being gay will be among the first to legally marry their partners in Washington state on Sunday, the first day such unions are available under the marriage equality law voters approved in November. The Washington Blade has the full story, which profiles Col. Grethe Cammermeyer and Maj. Margaret Witt. 

Col. Grethe Cammermeyer was discharged from the Washington National Guard in 1992 for being gay, when the military held an outright ban on service by LGBT people, in the years before Don't Ask, Don't Tell was instituted as a "compromise" in 1993. But on Sunday, Cammermeyer, 70 will marry her partner of 24 years, Diane Divelbess, 77, at their home in Langley, Wash.

“I think, for me, it was a 20-year battle to overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Cammermeyer told the Blade. “That felt like a vindication of those who started to change the policy and was truly monumental for me on a personal level. What you realize is that once you get done with one hurdle, there is another one right ahead of you, and that now is marriage equality. Because until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, those serving in the military now who happen to be gay service members who have family still are treated as second-class citizens and their families have no standing.”

Maj. Margaret Witt was discharged from the Air Force under DADT, and launched one of the first federal cases to successfully challenge the since-repealed policy, known as Witt v. Air Force.

But on Thursday, Witt, 48, and her partner of nine years, Laurie Johnson, 54, were among the first same-sex couples to receive a marriage license in Spokane, Wash., reports the Blade. The couple plan to wed in a small ceremony on December 15, officiated by Witt's attorney from her federal court case. 

“The work is definitely not done because now we can serve our country openly, but the marriages still aren’t recognized by the military or the federal government,” Witt said to the Blade. “That’s kind of painful for those that are willing to serve their country and have been willing to serve their country for so long.”

Washington state law mandates a three-day waiting period between the time a couple receives a marriage license and the day of the ceremony, so the first day gay Washingtonians can begin marrying is Sunday. Thursday saw a rush of same-sex couples to county licensing offices, eager to begin the journey of legal recognition many have been hoping for for decades. 

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