Thursday, May 22, 2008

End of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"

The Huffington Post reports that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted to reinstate the lawsuit of an Air Force officer who was dismissed from the military.

While not specifically striking down "don't ask, don't tell," the majority of the court did say the burden of proof was on the Pentagon that Maj. Margaret Witt's presence as an individual was detrimental to morale, not merely the fact she is a lesbian. The panel relied on a 2003 US Supreme Court decision which legalized sodomy in the States, based on SCOTUS' assessment that a Texas law invaded an individual's right to personal privacy.

One of the panel members said that assessment didn't go far enough: He would have struck down "don't ask ... " all together.

It's worth noting that Witt's dismissal just two years before completing her 20, despite a shortage of flight nurses and receiving a citation from no less than Dubya, led to several resignations from the military who thought she was being treated unfairly. Clearly, the fact she was a lesbian didn't bother her underlings. Why should it have been bothersome to her superiors?

Frankly, I believe the policy was stupid to begin with and it should be trashed, in favour of one that states specifically that a person's sexual orientation is not a reason to be hired (or not) or fired (or not) from the armed corps -- since it is not a justifiable reason in the civilian portion of the public service. The only reason why sexuality should be a reason for dismissal is if sexual misconduct, be it harrassment or assault, was committed; whether the person accused was gay or straight.

There are already many fine men and women serving who are homosexual. They fight just as hard as people who are heterosexual. It's time to open the door. Hopefully, the next administration will finally put an end to the nonsense. Witt, not just her lawsuit, should be reinstated retroactively and allowed to return to active duty or re-retire with a full pension with the correct seniority and full benefits -- as well as others like her.

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