The military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces is facing a slow but almost-certain death. Amid that news, a columnist for The Herald in Everett caught up with Grethe Cammermeyer, a Whidbey Island resident who retired in 1997 as a colonel — and was the highest-ranking openly gay service member.
Here’s a bit of the backstory:
When she retired with full military benefits in 1997, Cammermeyer was an Army Reserve colonel and chief nurse with the Washington National Guard. Before President Bill Clinton implemented “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 1993, Cammermeyer was also arguably the best-known casualty of the military’s all-out ban on homosexuals.
In 1994, she told her story in the book “Serving in Silence.” And in 1995, Cammermeyer was the subject of a TV movie starring Glenn Close.
She was honorably discharged from the military in 1992 after revealing, during an interview for a top-level security clearance, that she was a lesbian. She was reinstated after a legal fight that resulted in a 1994 federal court ruling that the military ban was unconstitutional.
If you’re interested in the topic (and, no matter what side you fall on, most people seem to be interested), Cammermeyer makes some interesting observations.