Troops discharged under 'don't ask, don't tell' gain full severance pay

Laura Gangi Pond/

Gay and lesbian service members discharged from the military on or after Nov. 10, 2004, under the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will be entitled to full severance pay, according to the settlement from a court case.

The settlement ends a class action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of service members discharged under DADT. Military members who were involuntarily and honorably discharged under DADT after six years of service were only entitled to half of their severance pay. DADT officially came to an end in September 2011, but the pay policy was separate.

ACLU staff attorney Joshua Block told Buzzfeed that it made no sense to keep punishing military personnel for an outdated policy. “The amount of the pay owed to these veterans is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country," he told Buzzfeed in a statement.  

According to Buzzfeed, the settlement would impact 181 honorably discharged veterans affected by the severance pay cut.  

The lawsuit began in 2010 after Richard Collins, a former Air Force staff sergeant, filed a class action lawsuit challenging the government’s policy. Collins was honorably discharged in March 2006 after being seen kissing his civilian boyfriend at a traffic light 10 miles from his base. Collins said that the settlement “means a lot to him and others forced out of the military” by DADT, according to the Associated Press.

(Image via Laura Gangi Pond/

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