Trial Opens for Lesbian Seeking Return to Military

By Gene Johnson | September 13, 2010 | 2:36 PM EDT

(AP) - An attorney for a lesbian flight nurse discharged from the Air Force Reserve says her sexual orientation never caused problems in her unit.

In an opening statement Monday, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington lawyer Sarah Dunne said former Maj. Margaret Witt was highly respected, and her dismissal - not her orientation - caused morale problems in her unit.

Justice Department attorney Peter Phipps responded that Witt's firing did not violate her rights.

Witt is suing the Air Force in federal court in Tacoma, seeking reinstatement following her "don't ask-don't tell" dismissal.

A federal appeals court ruled in Witt's case that the military may not discharge service members for being gay unless it proves the firing furthers military readiness.

The trial is expected to determine whether Witt's firing met that standard.