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Former discharged gay, lesbian service members to receive full separation pay

ACLU announces settlement in class action suit
Monday, January 7, 2013

WASHINGTON – Former service members who are part of a class action lawsuit challenging a Defense Department policy that cuts in half the separation pay of those who have been honorably discharged for “homosexuality” will receive their full pay after a settlement announced today.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico had filed a class action lawsuit against the policy, which was not part of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute and so was not changed when that law was repealed.

Richard Collins
Photo: via ACLU

“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,” said Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico.

“This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans,” she said.

The ACLU’s class action lawsuit represented approximately 181 honorably discharged veterans who had their separation pay cut in half because of the discriminatory policy, and the total amount of separation pay withheld from those veterans is approximately $2.4 million.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who served for nine years until he was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Collins was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico before being seen by a co-worker exchanging a kiss with his boyfriend in their car while stopped at an intersection off-base.

“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,” said Collins. “We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans.”

Under the settlement, all service members covered by the lawsuit will be contacted by the government and notified that they are eligible to opt in to the settlement and receive 100 percent of the separation pay that they would have received had they been discharged for any other honorable reason.

Federal law entitles service members to separation pay if they have been involuntarily and honorably discharged from the military after completing at least six years of service in order to help ease their transition to civilian life.

The settlement covers service members who were discharged on or after November 10, 2004, which is as far back as the settlement could extend under the applicable statute of limitations.

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12 more reader comments:

  1. Thank you, ACLU! Good job!

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:02pm
  2. amen to that amen to that

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:03pm
  3. Good,they certainly deserve it…it should include every single military member ever discharged-officially,because that is the only way to prove it- for being gay, and if the member is deceased, then their survivor(s) should get the money. I’d be pleased to see my tax dollars at work for that.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:11pm
  4. hell yes!

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:19pm
  5. and what about damages reimbursement?

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:24pm
  6. It’s about time….

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:26pm
  7. As another barrier falls, another barrier stands. Bring on June and nationwide Marriage Equality!

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 4:36pm
  8. wow does that include me from 1968????

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 5:40pm
  9. Should never had come to discharge..But glad they r being honored in some way.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 9:16pm
  10. They never should have been discharged and never should have been paid half! It’s about time they receive what they deserve.

    Posted on Monday, January 7, 2013 at 9:58pm
  11. Wait a sec ! Didn’t the commander-in-chief, potus obama tell the entire country that he supports the lgbt community? Why is the commander not speaking out on this? Why is the commander demanding (you know, giving orders) to re instate these people? Actually there’s a very good reason. He lied to you about his support and it doesn’t exist. The bigger problem is that none of you who bought into his crap have the backbone to now speak up on how you were fooled by an asshat who wanted nothing more from you than your vote. Don’t believe me? Ask yourselves, WHY, within weeks after re election, did he go on MTV and make a live statement that he would do nothing at all to support the lgbt cause, but instead he will leave it to future generations? Well if that’s your idea of presidential support, I guess you ought to give yourselves a community wide pat on the back for your gullibility. And since none of you have the courage needed to speak up and blame him, you can now blame yourselves. Better yet, Blame Bush – yeah, that’s the ticket ! COWARDS !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:00am
  12. Kristen Jackson. Did you actually say “honored”? In what way is winning a lawsuit, being honored? What amazing stupidity !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:02am