Appeals Court Reinstates Don't Ask Don't Tell Lawsuit
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit against the Air Force over the dismissal of Major Margaret Witt, a decorated flight nurse. The Air Force received a tip that Witt is a lesbian and, following an investigation and military hearing, Witt was discharged, reports the New York Times. Witt's discharge was conducted under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member's sexual orientation, but calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being gay or who engages in homosexual activity.
The three-member panel reinstated the lawsuit, saying "as a matter of due process, the Air Force can be required to show why there is a compelling need to discharge homosexuals who have been sexually active outside of their duty station with persons unconnected to the military," according to the Seattle Times.
"I am thrilled by the court's recognition that I can't be discharged without proving that I was harmful to morale," Witt said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. "I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job. Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there."
Media Resources: Associated Press 5/22/08; New York Times 5/22/08; Seattle Times 5/22/08