Some military personnel who were discharged for being gay had their separation pay cut in half — even though it was an honorable discharge. But now, after a class action suit brought on by the ACLU, those service members who were honorably discharged for being gay will receive their full pay.
As a result of the settlement, all service members covered by the suit will be contacted and have the option of receiving 100% of what they would have earned if they had been honorably discharged for any reason other than being gay.
“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, in a press release. “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.”
The pay reduction was a Defense Department policy and not part of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, so it did not change when the law was repealed, ACLU officials noted.
The settlement covers personnel who were discharged on or after November 10, 2004, as far back as it could extend under the applicable statute of limitations. The total amount of pay owed to these service members is about $2.4 million, which “is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project.”
Really, this is the least we can do.