Discharged Gay Soldiers Suing for Full Severance

Fight over half-pay has outlived Don't Ask, Don't Tell
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2011 2:29 AM CDT
Discharged Gay Soldiers Suing for Full Severance
Protestors hold signs as they celebrate the end of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' but demand equal rights on September 20, 2011 in San Francisco.   (Getty Images)

"Don't Ask Don't Tell" wasn't cold in its grave before Obama administration lawyers were in court opposing giving full severance pay to service members honorably discharged under the policy. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the case on behalf of 142 people discharged under the policy since 2005, reports the New York Times. Under a policy introduced in 1991, service members discharged for homosexuality received only half the severance pay of those involuntary discharged for other reasons.

The lead plaintiff is a former Air Force staff sergeant who was discharged after nine years of service when a civilian base employee spotted him kissing his boyfriend on the cheek in a car 10 miles from base. He was paid $12,351 instead of the $25,702 he expected after his discharge. At a hearing yesterday, the judge wondered why the government is refusing to pay up. "Your timing is exquisite—two days after the policy goes into effect eliminating ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t tell,’ here we are,” she said. “I would consider this to be an unenviable argument to have at this time." (More US military stories.)

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