Army reinstates colonel discharged for being gay

July 09, 1994|By Seattle Post-Intelligencer

SEATTLE -- Margarethe Cammermeyer, the decorated Army nurse who was discharged from the Washington National Guard after disclosing that she is a lesbian, was reinstated yesterday by the U.S. Army acting under a court order.

But her legal battle with the military is not over. The colonel with 26 years in uniform would be discharged again if the Army prevails in court, according to an Army memorandum.

Colonel Cammermeyer won the first round June 1, when U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly of Seattle rejected the government's contention that the presence of a homosexual would harm military effectiveness. Judge Zilly ruled that Colonel Cammermeyer's discharge was unconstitutional and "grounded solely in prejudice." He ordered her reinstated.

The Department of Defense appealed the decision and asked that the reinstatement be blocked until the case is resolved. The appeals court refused that request Thursday.

The Pentagon decided yesterday not to ask the U.S. Supreme Court tointervene, according to the Army memo that was sent to the Department of Justice. At 2 p.m., the Washington National Guard received an order from the Army rescinding Colonel Cammermeyer's previous discharge, said Col. Donna Hubbert, the Guard's public affairs officer.

Colonel Cammermeyer has been restored to her former rank and assigned to her former job as chief of nursing services for the 164th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Colonel Hubbert said.

Colonel Cammermeyer was called at 2:30 p.m. yesterday and told to report to Camp Murray today for routine weekend training, Colonel Hubbert said.

Asked about reaction in the Guard to Colonel Cammermeyer's reinstatement, Colonel Hubbert said, "She does have a fine service record. Her record was never the issue. She will participate in unit training and do all the things that soldiers do."

The Army's memo to the Justice Department noted that "Col. Cammermeyer will be subject to all of the same rules, regulations and laws that apply to all other members of the Washington National Guard, to include the new policy on homosexual conduct." The new policy, known as "don't ask, don't tell," forbids military personnel from revealing that they are homosexual.

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