April 3, 2000 Geneva, NY -In 1989, during an interview for top-secret clearance, Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer told the U.S. military “I am a lesbian.” Following that disclosure, Cammermeyer was separated from the military despite an exemplary military and civilian professional record. That same day, Cammermeyer filed suit in Federal District Court in Seattle, challenging the existing ban on homosexuals in the military and requested reinstatement. After a 25-month separation, Judge Zilly ruled the policy, which forced her separation, unconstitutional and based on prejudice. She was reinstated to the National Guard in June 1994, and resumed her previous position as Chief Nurse of the Washington State National Guard. She retired with full privileges in March 1997, after 31 years of dedicated service to the United States.
Cammermeyer has been invited to speak at Hobart and William Smith Colleges by the Colleges’ Pride Alliance at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11, in the Comstock Dining Room, as part of the Colleges observance of Gaypril or Gay Pride month. Cammermeyer’s will discuss the familiar topic of gays in the military and why this ban is inherently wrong in her talk titled “Serving in Silence No More.” The event is free and open to the public, as are other Gaypril events listed below.
Cammermeyer holds a B.S. degree from the University of Maryland, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington, specializing in neuroscience nursing. She began her military career in medical surgical nursing and education. She served in Vietnam and there began working with neurologically impaired patients, which has been the focus of her clinical interest and research ever since. She is the co-author of Serving in Silence (1994), which was recognized by the National Education Association and named Outstanding Book on the subject of human rights in North America. A made-for-television movie of the same name, starred Glenn Close as Col. Cammermeyer, was produced with Barbara Streisand as one of the executive producers. The movie received three Emmy Awards and the prestigious Peabody award. Cammermeyer is currently the host of the weekly Internet talk show “The Grethe Cammermeyer Show,” aired nationwide on GAYBC Radio Network.
Other events to be held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in observance of Gayril include:
• The Colleges community will participate in the National Day of Silence on Wednesday, April 5, which was formed to draw attention to those who have been silenced by hatred, oppression, and prejudice. Ribbons will be distributed as a sign of support.
• A group of alums will participate in a panel discussion titled “Out and About” at 5 p.m on Saturday, April 8, in the Boswell classroom in Winn-Seeley gymnasium. Students will have the opportunity to discuss with Hobart and William Smith graduates life on campus during their time at the Colleges, and making the transition from college to the workplace. Panelists include Gregg Cassella ’96, an auditor for Citigroup in New York and Mindy Quigg ’89, head women’s soccer coach for Ithaca College. Sally Webster, director of major gifts with the Office of Institutional Advancement, will moderate.
• On Thursday, April 13, a panel discussion titled “Out at HWS,” moderated by Dean of Faculty Susan Henking and featuring professors Robert Gross, Betty Bayer, and Sigrid Carle, and Director of Student Life and Leadership Barry Robinson, as well as students, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Geneva Room.
• On Tuesday, April 18, Chaplain Lesley Adams will host a discussion titled “Breaking Bread to Break the Silence: a Bethany Tuesday Ritual Meal for Outcasts and Our Allies” at 6 p.m. at her home, 630 South Main Street.
• On Wednesday, April 19, Carol Mason, assistant professor of English and American studies, will give a talk titled “Police State of Mind: Trends in Justifying Homophobic Violence” at 8 p.m in Coxe Hall, Room 8.
• On Tuesday, April 25, Darryl Hill, assistant professor of psychology, will lead a talk titled “Spoken Silences: Revealing and Hiding Identities of Desire” at 8:30 p.m. at Pride House, 99 St. Clair Street.
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