Air Force Nurse Wins Appeal, Clears Path For Gay Servicemen to Sue the Military

Happy Fleet Week! While NY has been overtaken by young men and women fresh off their boats, an Air Force nurse is suing the Air Force over firing her for being a lesbian.

Major Margaret Witt spent 18 years as a flight nurse before she was suspended in 2004 (two years short of full retirement benefits). Despite a citation for her work from President Bush, someone called the Air Force and told them they were shocked, shocked! to learn Major Margaret was having a romantic relationship with a civilian woman. The military claimed this violated their "don't ask, don't tell" policy. (Although it doesn't appear as though the individuals in the actual relationship "asked" or "told," now does it?)

"Don't ask, don't tell" has been around since 1993, when President Bill Clinton introduced it as a compromise between an outright ban of gays and lesbians in the military and letting patriotic Americans serve their country regardless of who they happen to love. This left the door (um closet?) open for plenty of complications and more than a little bitterness.

Anyway, back to Major Margaret. She first sued the Air Force back in 2006, but a judge threw her case out. Then yesterday, a federal appeals court overturned that decision and possibly cleared the way for other former servicemen and women to sue the military. Now perhaps all of those Arabic translators who got booted for being gay can get their jobs back and help our soldiers and Marines understand what everyone's saying to them in Iraq.

Oh, and on a related note: Ellen DeGeneres and John McCain did a complicated little dance around the topic of gay marriage on her show...