Lesbian’s Military Case Gets Green Light

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We hope the military has good lawyers!

An appeals court in Seattle ruled yesterday that Major Margaret Witt can continue her lawsuit against the United States military, which discharged her after uncovering her lesbian ways.

While the court didn’t directly take on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which prohibits gays from serving openly, it said the military can only “intrude” on gay soldier’s lives to “advance an important governmental interest.”

From NY Times:

The decision was notable for the standard the appeals court instructed Judge Leighton to use in considering the case. The panel said judges considering cases claiming government intrusion into the private lives of gay men and lesbians must require the government to meet a heightened standard of scrutiny.

The usual standard is called “rational basis” review, which merely requires the government to offer a rational reason for a law or policy. The rationale offered by Congress for the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is that openly gay and lesbian service members threaten morale, discipline and unit cohesion. Several courts have sustained the policy as rational.

So, to keep Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in place, the military will have to build concrete cases against individuals, rather than just against a monolithic homo.

Witt, who worked as a flight nurse before her twenty-year career came crashing down, couldn’t be happier:

I am thrilled by the court’s recognition that I can’t be discharged without proving that I was harmful to morale.

“I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job… Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there.

Witt’s case will no doubt be bolstered by the appeals court’s decision that she was an “outstanding Air Force officer.”