Lesbian Hopes to Become Chaplain if She Wins Reinstatement to Army

A former Army captain who was discharged from the service after revealing she is a lesbian says she plans to ask for an appointment as a chaplain if she wins her lawsuit against the Army.

The Rev. Dusty Pruitt, who served as a chemical weapons expert in the Army and Army Reserve for 13 years, took a step toward her goal when the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in mid-August that the Army must reconsider her dismissal. Pruitt is ordained in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a Southern California-based denomination with a predominantly homosexual membership.

The appeals court said the Army could not justify dismissing homosexuals from service by relying on Army policies that contend that homosexuals create morale problems and security risks. The appeals court sent the case back to the U.S. District Court--where Pruitt's suit was dismissed in 1987--ordering the Army to present specific reasons for its policies banning homosexuals.

Pruitt, who is senior pastor of a Metropolitan Community Church in Long Beach, began studying for the ministry while still in the military. Pruitt disclosed her homosexuality in an interview with The Times in 1983. The Army reacted immediately by suspending her promised promotion to major. After a formal hearing she was given an honorable discharge.

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