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gay_USA_MilitaryThe Pentagon has agreed to give lesbian and gay service members discharged under the now retired “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) rule the full severance pay they had previously been denied.

This comes as a result of a settlement, announced on Monday, in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of New Mexico. The policy to deny DADT discharged soldiers the pay given to other veterans was not repealed when DADT was retired in September 2010, meaning that many veterans were still denied the full benefits they had earned.

The ACLU brought a class action lawsuit representing around 181 honourably discharged veterans who had seen their separation pay cut in half due to the Pentagon’s policy. The ACLU had calculated that the total amount of pay withheld from the veterans is $2.4 million.

Under the settlement, all service members party to the lawsuit will be notified that they can now receive the full separation pay that they would have been eligible for had they been discharged for any other honourable reason.

Federal law entitles service members discharged on or after November 10, 2004, to full pay, as this is as far back as the statute of limitations allows the deal to stretch. This means that as many as 3,300 veterans could benefit from this ruling, based on the discharge figures between 2004 and the time the DADT policy was retired in 2010.

Lead plaintiff in this case is Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force whose nine-year career was ended when he was discharged under DADT, said in a statement: “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. We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans.”

Laura Schaur Ives, of the ACLU of New Mexico, called this an end to a “double dose of discrimination,” going on to say that, “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.”

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