Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, proudly hailed today's decision in the lawsuit brought by Air Force Major Margaret Witt and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State challenging Major Witt's discharge from the Air Force under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
During the seven-day trial, Leighton heard testimony from Witt’s comrades that it was her discharge –and not her being gay— that inflicted injury to her Reserve unit’s morale.
"Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against a discriminatory and unconstitutional law," said Alexander Nicholson, founder and Executive Director of Servicemembers United. "Major Witt's case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness."
This legal victory against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law is the second this month, with a judge in Riverside, California previously declaring the entire "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law unconstitutional in a facial challenge to the law brought by the Log Cabin Republicans. Major Witt's victory will apply only to her own discharge, but the precedent set with this decision and the previous appellate court ruling in this case on the standard to be used in deciding on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" discharges all contribute to a significant shift in how courts appear to be viewing and treating the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.
HRC President Joe Solmonese stated, in reaction to the news, “By reinstating Major Witt, a decorated Air Force nurse discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ another federal court has demonstrated once again that this discriminatory law does not contribute to our nation’s security or defense,,, had Major Witt been discharged in any other circuit in the country, she would not had her day in court. It is time for Congress and the Administration to recognize that his failed law should be removed from the books once and for all.”
The Witt v. U.S. case has been a high-profile one and the subject of debate on the floor of the Senate and in the confirmation hearing of the U.S. Supreme Court’s newest member, Elena Kagan. Senate Republicans charged that Kagan, as Solicitor General, undermined the DADT law when she advised the Obama administration not to appeal to the Supreme Court a preliminary ruling in the Witt case.