The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy about gays in the military took a hit today when a U.S. District Judge in Tacoma, Washington, thanks to an attorney from the ACLU. The Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times both report that Federal judge struck down “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in favor of Margaret Witt. Witt is a decorated Air Force flight nurse and sued to be reinstated to the military after she was discharged under the controversial policy. The judge ruled in Margaret Witt’s favor saying that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional. Witt was discharged in 2006.
Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?
The Senate couldn’t overcome a filibuster to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and observers are hoping this court case will help Margaret Witt. Others like her who were dishonorably discharged may help get the ban on gays in the military repealed. More and more high profile cases including this ruling could help convince politicians and the Pentagon to change the policy before a December report is released.
Margaret Witt was tearful and thankful afterwards as her four year ordeal comes to a close. The judge has ordered her to be reinstated to her previous rank and pay. Precedent was set in a 2008 case that stated gays cannot be discharged unless it prevents the military from achieving their objective.
Others can look to Margaret Witt’s inspiration such as Katherine Miller from West Point who resigned her commission even though she was due to graduate with honors. The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is part of a larger equal rights movement for gays and lesbians. Supporters of gay marriage and gays in the military are gaining more and more steam heading into the midterm elections. Will this large voting block take inspiration from Margaret Witt and her case to influence votes? We will see if the Margaret Witt effect leads to a repeal of the controversial policy.
Both the Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times provided information for this article.