Main | Thursday, May 22, 2008

Court Challenges DADT

An encouraging first:
A US federal court of appeal has reinstated a lawsuit by a decorated Air Force nurse who is suing after she was discharged for being a lesbian. Major Margaret Witt's case is the first time a court has not automatically backed the US military's argument that gays hurt morale and operations as a good enough reason for dismissal.

The three judges of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Air Force now has to demonstrate reasons to keep Major Witt from serving. They did not strike down the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, which is in fact a federal law passed in 1993.

It bars openly gay, bisexual or lesbian people from serving in any of the US Armed Forces and prohibits the military from asking questions about a service member's sexuality. Major Witt, who joined up in 1987, tried to sue in 2006. A district court judge said that a 2003 Supreme Court ruling which struck down Texas' anti-sodomy laws did not extend to the military's treatment of gays. Yesterday the appeals court reinstated her lawsuit.

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