A federal judge in Washington has ordered the U.S. Air Force to reinstate Major Margaret Witt, a flight nurse who was discharged in 2006 for violating “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the military policy that allows gay and lesbian service members to serve only so long as they remain celibate and closeted.

After a six-day trial, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton found that Witt's sexual orientation had not negatively impacted her unit's morale or cohesion as the military had argued.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, represented Witt at trial.

“Today we heard the hammer of justice strike for Major Margaret Witt,” Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington, said. “We look forward to the day when all members of our military can serve our country without invidious discrimination. To discharge Major Witt simply because of her sexual orientation was entirely unfair to her and unwise for the military, which needs her significant skills.”

Witt was expelled from the military in 2004 for “homosexual conduct” after her commanders learned she was involved in a lesbian relationship.

“I want to serve my country,” Witt, a flight nurse with a distinguished 19-year career in the Air Force, said. “I have loved being in the military – my fellow airmen have been my family. I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job.”

“Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation,” she added. “They were just glad to see me.”

Groups lobbying for repeal cheered the news of a second high-profile ruling against the policy this month.

“This is a stunning victory for Major Witt and all gay and lesbian patriots serving our country today,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group lobbying for repeal, said. “Clearly federal courts are trending towards allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.”

“Yet another judge has taken yet another righteous, historic, and courageous stand against discrimination and unconstitutional law,” Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, said. “Major Witt's case is a clear-cut one in which her discharge itself actually harmed unit cohesion, morale, and combat readiness.”

Earlier this month, a federal judge in California found the policy violated the constitutional rights of gay troops. Obama officials have argued that the ruling should be limited to members of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay GOP group behind the challenge. Legislative efforts to repeal the law ran aground on Tuesday, when Senate Republicans united to block passage of a defense authorization bill, which includes language to end the 17-year-old law.

Sarvis added that the cases only serve to demonstrate the need for Congress to act: “The favorable Witt decision, like the Log Cabin Republicans ruling, only underscores the urgent need for the Senate to take up repeal in the lame duck session.”