Lesbian flight nurse returns to duty as White House appeals
A lesbian flight nurse sacked under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is to re-join the Air Force but the Obama administration has filed an appeal against the decision.
Major Margaret Witt was sacked in 2007 after 19 years of service in the Air Force and Air Force Reserves when her affair with a woman came to light.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which has represented her, said she will return to duty while the Justice Department appeals.
A federal court in Tacoma, Washington, ruled in September that she should be reinstated but the Justice Department told the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Tuesday that it would appeal the ruling.
The Justice Department is not seeking a stay on the order, which means Maj Witt may return to duty.
In a statement, she said: “I am thrilled to be able to serve in the Air Force again.
“The men and women in the unit are like family members to me, and I’ve been waiting a long time to rejoin them.”
Maj Witt kept her sexuality secret but was outed in 2004 when the ex-husband of her girlfriend informed the Air Force that she was gay.
During the case, her former colleagues testified that her sacking, rather than her sexual orientation, had harmed unit morale.
Gay rights campaigners hope that the ban on out gay soldiers can be repealed through Congress in the current lame duck session.
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