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Judge to rule Friday on Witt’s return to Air Force

Tue., Sept. 21, 2010, 4:47 p.m.

TACOMA — A lawyer for a decorated flight nurse from Spokane discharged for being gay urged a federal judge today to reinstate her to the Air Force Reserve, and the judge indicated he might have no other choice.

U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma did not immediately issue a ruling in the case of former Maj. Margaret Witt. But as the trial closed he expressed strong doubts about arguments made by government lawyers seeking to have Witt’s dismissal upheld.

The judge suggested that his hands were tied by a 2008 appeals court ruling in the case, which said that the military can’t fire people for being gay unless it shows that their dismissal was necessary to further military goals.

Senate Republicans today blocked legislation to repeal the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” law on gays serving in the military.

Leighton said he would issue his ruling Friday afternoon.

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