Judge to Military: Lesbian Nurse ‘Should be Reinstated’ Immediately
September 25, 2010
(ChattahBox US News)— The latest federal ruling declaring the odious “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy unconstitutional, is another powerful cudgel in the battle to eliminate the military rule prohibiting gay men and women from serving openly. U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton ruled that former Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt, a highly decorated flight nurse, dismissed from service after being outed as a lesbian, should be reinstated to her position”at the earliest possible moment.” Judge Leighton not only found that the DADT policy was unconstitutional, but determined it also harmed the military. This is the second ruling in a month, dismantling the legal basis for DADT.
Witt followed the DADT rules during her nearly 20-years of exemplary service in the Air Force. She didn’t tell. But she was outed by a third party and tossed from the military after an investigation found she was a lesbian.
The ACLU came to her defense and sued in federal court. Yesterday, she won the court case, after the judge rejected the argument of the Air Force that openly gay service members would harm the morale and cohesion of the armed forces. Judge Leighton, a conservative Bush appointee, found just the opposite to be the case.
“The evidence produced at trial overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the suspension and discharge of Margaret Witt did not significantly further the important government interest in advancing unit morale and cohesion. To the contrary, the actions taken against Major Witt had the opposite effect. The 446th AES is a highly professional, rapid response, air evacuation team. It is comprised of flight nurses and medical technicians who are well-trained, well-led and highly motivated. They provide a vital service to our fighting men and women around the world. Serving within that unit are known or suspected gay or lesbian service men and women. There is no evidence before this Court to suggest that their service within the unit causes problems of the type predicted in the Congressional findings of fact referenced above. These people train together, fly together, care for patients together, deploy together. There is nothing in the record before this Court suggesting that the sexual orientation (acknowledged or suspected) has negatively impacted the performance, dedication or enthusiasm of the 446th AES. There is no evidence that wounded troops care about the sexual orientation of the flight nurse or medical technician tending to their wounds.”
An earlier case heard by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips, found DADT unconstitutional. And the court further ruled that the discriminatory policy, which results in the discharge of thousands of trained service men and women, has a “direct and deleterious effect’’ on the military.
Judge Phillips is preparing to issue an injunction blocking the Pentagon from continuing to implement the DADT policy. But the Department of Justic appealed, asking the court to hold off while Congress, the Pentagon and the White House work to repeal the military rule.
However, that’s easier said than done. Despite having the support of top military commanders, President Obama and the majority of Americans, every single member of the Republican caucus voted to block a defense bill, because it contained a measure repealing “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
A conditional repeal of DADT has already passed the House, but like most pieces of good legislation, the bill has come to the Senate to die a slow death, as Republicans misuse the filibuster rule to block even procedural motions.