Sunday, Dec 15, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 21, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 42
ACLU case challenging separation-pay policy for Gay veterans advances
Section One
ALL STORIES
  next story
ACLU case challenging separation-pay policy for Gay veterans advances

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

On Oct. 18, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied the government's motion to dismiss an ACLU class action lawsuit challenging the Defense Department's discriminatory military separation pay policy for involuntarily discharged Gay service members.

In other words, Gay veterans will have their day in court.

We may be a few months out from the New Year, but it's safe to say that the demise of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' will be marked as a highlight of 2011 for the LGBT community.

'The end of that discriminatory statute and its demeaning implications to the men and women who serve our country is something to be celebrated,' said Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU's LGBT Project. 'But even though DADT is gone, the legacy of unfair treatment of Gay and Lesbian veterans continues.'

One of those legacies is the Defense Department's separation pay policy for discharged service members. If you serve six years in the military and are then discharged involuntarily, Congress says you're entitled to separation pay to help ease your transition to civilian life. But the DOD has an internal policy - not required by any statute - of cutting that separation pay in half if you're discharged, even honorably, for 'homosexuality.'

'Let's be clear: Many of those who were discharged under DADT were distinguished soldiers, airmen, or cadets and had an unblemished record,' said Block, adding, 'They were service members in good standing, and there was nothing dishonorable about their discharge. Yet they are denied the same separation pay as other honorably discharged service members merely because they're Gay or Lesbian.'

'That's what happened to our lead client in our class action lawsuit challenging this needless policy,' he continued. 'Richard Collins was a decorated Air Force staff sergeant who served nine years before being kicked out under DADT. He was seen kissing his civilian boyfriend, in a car at a stoplight, when he was off duty, out of uniform, and 10 miles off base. After being discharged under DADT, Sgt. Collins discovered that his separation pay was cut in half.'

The ACLU filed this lawsuit on behalf of Collins and 142 other service members about a year ago. They expected at the time that, once Congress passed the statute authorizing repeal of DADT, the government would quickly settle the case and give these honorably discharged service members the separation pay they are entitled to.

'Instead,' says Block, 'The government has inexplicably dragged its feet every step of the way.'

In May, the government asked the court to dismiss the case, without even defending the constitutionality of the policy. Instead the government argued that the courts could not provide any relief to service members whose separation pay was cut in half while DADT was still in effect.

'It didn't make sense to us, and, apparently, it didn't make any sense to the court,' recalled Block. 'Today, Judge Christine O.C. Miller of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied the government's request and will allow these veterans to be heard.'

The court's decision means that these 142 service members will finally have their day in court. The government will have to explain to them and to the rest of the public how cutting their pay in half served important governmental interests. The government will have to make that explanation even though the Pentagon has already issued a detailed report making clear that discrimination against Gay and Lesbian service members is entirely unnecessary and doesn't serve the interests of the military.

'Good luck with that,' said Block.

'The government's conduct is all the more baffling because in other contexts, the Justice Department has worked hard to defend LGBT people from this sort of pointless discrimination,' he said. 'Most dramatically, the Justice Department issued a thorough legal opinion explaining why discrimination based on sexual orientation must be treated as constitutionally suspect and has refused to defend the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. But apparently, the relevant decision-makers at the Pentagon haven't gotten the memo, and continue to defend this outdated and irrational policy.'

Block says this case is about more than money. 'It's about basic fairness. When you make a mistake, the right thing to do is to apologize and try to fix the problem. The government can't undo all the harm that DADT inflicted on Mr. Collins and other honorably discharged veterans. But it can at least take the small step of giving these veterans the separation pay that was gratuitously taken away from them. In Richard Collins' own words: 'We gave all in serving this nation. The Pentagon should not give us half in return.'

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Lesbian activist Janice Langbehn honored by White House
------------------------------
GSBA October business luncheon supports LGBT suicide prevention
------------------------------
Marsha Botzer in Beijing: Activist reports on China
------------------------------
ACLU case challenging separation-pay policy for Gay veterans advances
------------------------------
Come out, come out, wherever you are
------------------------------
Amtrak blocks LGBT newspapers on WiFi Soft-Launch
------------------------------
Students pledge to be allies against anti-LGBT bullying
------------------------------
Log Cabin Republicans expel Dallas chapter over racist remarks
------------------------------
Quebec commits $7M to fight anti-Gay bullying
------------------------------
SLDN to challenge DOMA
------------------------------
New study finds Gay and Bisexual men have varied sexual repertoires
------------------------------
Col. George Middleton: Black Revolutionary War hero
------------------------------
From Seattle to Bogota: Local women join international peace gathering
------------------------------
UFCW 21 endorses marriage equality
------------------------------
Botswana should legalize Gay sex, ex-president says
------------------------------

------------------------------
BREAKING NEWS
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Chimp to Man to History Books: The Path of AIDS
------------------------------
Evan Wolfson and Cheng He
------------------------------
Savagely beaten, tied to a lamppost and burned alive: Horrific fate of hotel manager who was murdered 'for being gay'
------------------------------
Log Cabin Republicans back Fletcher for mayor
------------------------------
Marine Commandant Says He's 'Fine' With Gay Marines Bringing Their Partners To Marine Corps Ball
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2011

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News