Judge orders servicemember expelled under DADT reinstated

It’s been a confusing month for DADT; first, a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional, but it’s still in effect as the DOJ promised to appeal, and an effort to slip in a legislative repeal was aborted by Senate Republicans. And now…

A federal judge ruled Friday that a decorated flight nurse discharged from the Air Force for being gay should be given her job back as soon as possible in the latest legal setback to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton came in a closely watched case as a tense debate has been playing out over the policy. Senate Republicans blocked an effort to lift the ban this week, but Leighton is now the second federal judge this month to deem the policy unconstitutional. Maj. Margaret Witt was suspended in 2004 and subsequently discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy after the Air Force learned she had been in a long-term relationship with a civilian woman. She sued to get her job back. Leighton hailed her as a “central figure in a long-term, highly charged civil rights movement.” Tears streaked down Witt’s cheeks and she hugged her parents, her partner and supporters following the ruling.

“Today you have won a victory in that struggle, the depth and duration of which will be determined by other judicial officers and hopefully soon the political branches of government,” the judge told her, choking up as he recalled Witt’s dramatic testimony about her struggles.

It seems inevitible that either this case or the Log Cabin Republicans’ will end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later; so a chance (I cannot say if it is a good or bad one) that the policy will be nullified even if when the GOP takes back Congress next year.

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