RIVERSIDE, Calif. — If the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy were lifted today, Mike Almy would not think twice about returning to the Air Force.
The former major, who was fired in 2006 for being gay, is expected to testify today during the federal trial of a lawsuit posing the biggest constitutional challenge in recent years to the military's policy banning openly gay service members.
The lawsuit filed by the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights organization, seeks a federal injunction to immediately halt the policy.
The case has put the Obama administration in the awkward position of defending a policy it is pushing Congress to repeal.
More than 13,500 service members have been fired under "don't ask, don't tell" since 1994.
Almy was dismissed after a routine computer search turned up personal e-mails he wrote while deployed in Iraq. After the e-mails were given to his commander, he was handed discharge papers marked "homosexual admission" as the reason.
"Despite this treatment, my greatest desire is still to return to active duty as an officer and leader in the United States Air Force, protecting the freedoms of a nation that I love; freedoms that I myself was not allowed to enjoy while serving in the military," Almy wrote in an April 26 letter to President Obama asking him to overturn the policy.
Government attorneys say the issue should be decided by Congress and not in the federal courtroom in Riverside, Calif. The U.S. House has voted to repeal the policy, and the Senate is expected to take up the issue this summer.