Former homosexual military service members, discharged for being gay and lesbian, who only received partial severance pay will be compensated. Monday, a federal court ruled payment be doled out to members that were originally denied the remainder of benefits.
Severance pay is normally given to military personnel who serve at least six years, but who are involuntarily and honorably discharged.
The Pentagon has agreed to give full back pay to US service members who were discharged due to their sexual orientation under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Air Force Staff Sergeant, Richard Collins, of Clovis, New Mexico. He had been honorably discharged in 2006. It argued that it was unconstitutional for the department to decrease pay to certain members.
Two years before “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) became a law, many homosexual service members, under a 1991 policy, were only ever paid a portion of severance pay.
DADT was a policy that prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, while barring openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service. The act prohibited any homosexual or bisexual person from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages or other familial attributes, while serving in the United States armed forces.
A congressional bill to terminate DADT was enacted in December 2010, and the law was repealed in September 2011.
The Daily Beast reports the settlement covers gay service members who were honorably discharged on or after Nov. 10, 2004.
Pink News reports that the American Civil Liberties Union said that the settlement will cover the severance pay of more than 180 former service members, and constitutes $2.4 million (£1.5 million).
Laura Schauer Ives, the managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, said:
“There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life.”
[Image via Wikicommons]