U.S. Air Force Major Margaret Witt, a flight nurse who was discharged in 2006 for violating “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 17-year-old law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, will rejoin the military even as the Obama administration appeals a federal judge's ruling. Witt becomes the first openly gay person to return to the military by court order after being discharged under DADT.

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

On Tuesday, the Obama administration appealed the ruling but did not seek a stay of the judge's order reinstating Witt to her unit.

“I am thrilled to be able to serve in the Air Force again,” Witt said in a statement. “The men and women in the unit are like family members to me, and I've been waiting a long time to rejoin them. Thousands of men and women who are gay and lesbian honorably serve this country in our military. Many people forget that the U.S. military is the most diverse in the world – we are extremely versed in adaptation.”

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

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

The government is also appealing a California court's ruling that found the policy in violation of the constitutional rights of gay troops.

In a statement released Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs defended the administration's decision to pursue an appeal in the Witt case. He said the case “shows why Congress must act to end this misguided policy” and insisted the administration is unwavering in its commitment to end the law.

On Monday, Gibbs joined a growing chorus of leaders warning that the failure to legislatively repeal the law during the lame-duck session would leave courts to decide the issue.