A nurse practitioner whose alleged harassment of a lesbian Marine veteran sparked an online backlash campaign has been removed from her job.
A Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center spokesperson confirmed that nurse practitioner Lincy Pandithurai would "retire from federal service" effective Jan. 21. Pandithurai reportedly told Esther Garatie, a honorably discharged Marine Lance Corporal who was seeking treatment for severe depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder, that the reason she was depressed and contemplating suicide was because she was a lesbian.
“The board was able to substantiate material portions of the veteran’s claims,” the spokesperson said in a statement as quoted by the Dallas Observer. "Our commitment to equal rights remains strong as we practice our core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect and excellence."
Upon learning of Pandithurai's removal, the 28-year-old Garatie also issued a statement. "I really want to thank all of the people that have come together to support me and other veterans," she said "Thank you for standing up against anything like this ever happening -- to any veteran -- ever again."
As the Dallas Voice reports, Garatie initially sought treatment for severe depression and possible post-traumatic stress disorder in October, upon which Pandithurai inquired about her sexual orientation.
“She sat down and looked at me, and her first question was, ‘Are you a lesbian?’” Garatie wrote in a statement. “Her second question to me was, ‘Have you asked God into your heart? Have you been saved by Jesus Christ?’"
She concluded, "This is when I realized that I was no longer a United States veteran in her eyes, I was just a homosexual.”
Following the incident, Garatie and a friend launched an online petition at Change.org calling for Pandithurai to be fired, which drew over 19,500 signatures. As The Advocate is reporting, the hospital launched an investigation in November in response to the petition, taking Pandithurai away from patients in the interim.
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