In an Aug. 22, 2011, photo, new recruits listen as a video talks about the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.(Photo: T. Ortega Gaines, AP file)
The federal government has agreed to pay $2.4 million to dozens of gay troops who were discharged and denied full separation pay under the pre-2011 "don't ask, don't tell" policy, according to a new court settlement.
class-action lawsuit was spearheaded by the American Civil Liberties
Union and filed in 2010 on behalf of about 181 gay troops who were
honorably discharged for violating the military's ban on gays serving
openly in uniform.
The government agreed to provide full back pay,
or an average of about $14,000 per former service member, according to
the settlement announced by the ACLU.
Service members typically
are entitled to separation pay when leaving the military. For example,
someone separating at the pay grade of E-5 after six years of service
would be entitled to about $19,000 cash.
For years, however, the
Pentagon maintained a policy of granting only half the standard
separation pay amount for troops who were honorably discharged for being
open about their sexual orientation.
Among the plaintiffs was
Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who served for
nine years until he was discharged in 2006 under "don't ask, don't
"We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the
same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans," Collins
said in an ACLU statement.
Collins was stationed at Cannon Air
Force Base, N.M., when a co-worker saw him kissing his boyfriend in
their car while stopped at an off-base intersection.
the settlement, the government will directly contact all troops affected
by the lawsuit. Only troops discharged since 2004 are eligible because
of the statute of limitations on civil claims.
Andrew Tilghman, Army Times