FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 24, 2010
NCLR Applauds Court Decision Reinstating Major Margaret Witt to the Air Force
A Statement by Executive Director Kate Kendell
(San Francisco, CA, September 24, 2010)—Today, a federal district court judge in Tacoma, Washington held that the discharge of Air Force flight nurse Major Margaret Witt under the federal government’s policy barring lesbian, gay, and bisexual people from serving openly in the military violated the United States Constitution. Judge Ronald B. Leighton ruled that the government violated Major Witt’s constitutional rights by discharging her under the policy—popularly known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The court held that the discharge of Major Witt did not advance the Air Force’s interest in military readiness, unit morale, and cohesion. To the contrary, the judge concluded, “it was Major Witt’s suspension and ultimate discharge that caused a loss of morale throughout [her] squadron.”
Judge Leighton ordered that Major Witt should be restored to her position as an Air Force flight nurse as soon as possible.
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell:
“Today’s decision is the second within the past month to hold that the discharge of service members under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell serves no legitimate purpose and is blatantly unconstitutional. Major Witt’s victory underscores why Congress and the President must put a stop to this destructive and irrational policy. It is an outrage that the federal government continues to intentionally discriminate against thousands of dedicated service members based solely on anti-gay prejudice. We congratulate and thank Major Witt and her lawyers at the ACLU of Washington for bringing this landmark case.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.