Court Reinstates Lawsuit Challenging
Grounds of Sexual Orientation
May 21, 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth
Circuit reinstated the lawsuit challenging the
dismissal of a highly decorated U.S. Air Force flight
nurse on the grounds that she engaged in homosexual
Court of Appeals ruled that the Air Force must prove
that discharging Maj. Witt was necessary for the
purposes of military readiness. The court found
that the military must prove that a service
member's conduct actually hurt morale or jeopardized
another government interest.
am thrilled by the court's recognition that I can't be
discharged without proving that I was harmful to
morale," said Maj Witt in an ACLU press release.
"I want to serve my country. I have loved
being in the military - my fellow airmen have been my
Margaret Witt, who served in the Air Force for 19
years, earned many medals and commendations. She
was even awarded a medal by President George W.
Bush for her "outstanding medical care" to
injured service members and that her "outstanding
aerial accomplishments reflected great credit upon
herself and the United States Air Force" for
her service in Oman during Operations Enduring
Witt graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in
1986 and served as a flight nurse and operating room
nurse assigned to McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma.
Witt was also selected to be in the Air Force Nurse
Corps recruitment flyer in 1993.
her work and the fact that there is currently a
critical shortage of flight nurses, the Air Force
began an investigation into an allegation that she
engaged in homosexual conduct in the summer of 2004.
March 2006, the Air Force administratively discharged
Maj. Witt on the grounds of homosexual conduct.
Maj. Witt took the U.S. Air Force to federal court,
but the lawsuit was rejected in July 2006. She
turned to the American Civil Liberties Union to appeal
the court's decision, according to Sarah Dunne, ACLU
of Washington's legal director.
seeks to reverse the Air Force decision to discharge
Maj. Witt. The ACLU has submitted testimonials
from her military colleagues stating that her forced
dismal is harmful to the unit's morale.
am proud of my career and want to continue to do my
job," said Maj. Witt. "Wounded people
never asked me about my sexual orientation. They
were just glad to see me there."
who joined the ACLU in October 2006, said that the
ACLU has been committed to ensuring the equality of
the LGBT community. "We work on a lot
of different fronts to defend civil rights," she
Lobsenz of Carney Badley, Aaron Caplan, former staff
attorney for ACLU, and Dunne are representing Maj.
2008 Gay Military Signal