ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Dozens of gay and lesbian former military service members who were discharged due to their homosexuality will receive the rest of their severance pay under a settlement approved Monday by a federal court.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the $2.4 million settlement covers more than 180 veterans who received only half of their separation pay under a policy that went into effect in 1991, two years before “don’t ask, don’t tell” became law.
Laura Schauer Ives, the managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, called the settlement a “long-delayed justice.”
“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,” she said.
A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, said the Defense Department is aware of the settlement and “will, of course, continue to follow the law, as well as the terms of the agreement.”
The case was filed in 2010 by the ACLU on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins of Clovis, N.M. He was honorably discharged in 2006 after two civilians who worked with him at Cannon Air Force Base reported they saw him kiss his boyfriend in a car about 10 miles from the base. The decorated sergeant was off-duty and not in uniform at the time.
Collins said in a statement Monday that the settlement means a lot to him and others who were forced out of the military against their will.
Separation pay is granted to military personnel who serve at least six years but are involuntarily and honorably discharged. The Defense Department had a list of conditions that triggered an automatic reduction in that pay, including homosexuality, unsuccessful drug or alcohol treatment or discharge in the interests of national security.
The lawsuit argued that it was unconstitutional for the department to unilaterally cut the amount for people discharged for homosexuality.
Even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed last fall, the pay policy was separate and a federal judge in Washington, D.C., allowed the case to move forward.
At the time, the administration did not defend the merits of the policy but argued that the defense secretary had sole discretion to decide who gets what separation pay and that the court shouldn’t be able to rewrite military regulations.
The settlement covers former military members who were discharged on or after Nov. 10, 2004. They will be notified by the federal government that they’re eligible to opt in to the settlement and receive their full separation pay.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick