The Pentagon on Monday agreed to pay
full separation pay to service members discharged under “Don't Ask,
Gay and bisexual troops who were forced
to leave the military because of their sexual orientation prior to
repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” and received an honorable
discharge got only half of their discharge pay.
Under a settlement to a class-action
lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the
Pentagon has agreed to pay full separation pay to these troops dating
back to November 10, 2004.
“It makes no sense to continue to
penalize service members who were discharged under a discriminatory
statute that has already been repealed,” Joshua Block, a staff
attorney for the ACLU's LGBT Project, said in a statement. “The
amount of the pay owed to these veterans is small by military
standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service
to their country.”
Richard Collins, a former Air Force
staff sergeant, was fired from his 9-year military career after two
civilian co-workers reported to superiors that they had observed
Collins kissing his civilian boyfriend. Collins was the lead
plaintiff in the case.
“This means so much to those of us
who dedicated ourselves to the military, only to be forced out
against our will for being who we are,” Collins said. “We gave
all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and
respect for our service as any other veterans.”
According to the ACLU, at least 180
veterans are affected by the settlement.