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Justice Dept. Appeals Witt Case

Justice Dept. Appeals Witt Case


Government attorneys have filed their appeal in a federal case brought by Air Force major Margaret Witt, who was discharged in 2006 under "don't ask, don't tell."

The appeal comes two months after a federal judge in Washington State ruled that Witt must be reinstated -- a major victory in the DADT repeal movement.

Witt's suit seeking reinstatement in the military resulted in court ruling known as the "Witt Standard," whereby the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit ruled in 2008 that the government must show that discharging a gay service member is vital to maintain a unit's "good order, morale, and discipline."

The Justice Department is not seeking to stay the district court's order to reinstate Witt, however -- a cause for celebration for the highly decorated flight nurse.

"I am thrilled to be able to serve in the Air Force again," Witt said in a Tuesday statement circulated by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which litigated her case. "The men and women in the unit are like family members to me, and I've been waiting a long time to rejoin them. Thousands of men and women who are gay and lesbian honorably serve this country in our military. Many people forget that the U.S. military is the most diverse workforce in the world -- we are extremely versed in adaptation."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs issued the following statement Tuesday on the Obama administration's appeal in the case:

"Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in a case involving a legal challenge to the Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy, as the Department traditionally does when acts of Congress have been held unconstitutional. This filing in no way diminishes the President's -- and his Administration's -- firm commitment to achieving a legislative repeal of DADT this year. Indeed, it clearly shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy. In recent weeks, the President and other Administration officials have been working with the Senate to move forward with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, including a repeal of DADT, during the lame duck."

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