In a landmark settlement, the Pentagon has agreed to give full back pay to U.S. service members who were discharged due to their sexual orientation under the military's “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The payouts will be granted to service members dismissed from the military under the now-repealed policy on or after November 2004.
“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,” former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins said in a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit.
Under "Don’t ask," service members who were honorably discharged automatically had their separation pay cut in half.
The ACLU of New Mexico sued the Pentagon on behalf of 181 service members who were dismissed under the policy to recover their full pay. Each solider, sailor, airman and Marine in the case will receive, on average, a payout of $13,000, the ACLU said.
The Defense Department will pay a total of $2.4 million to the plaintiffs.
It's the least we could do for these folks, in a federal job where they were fired for even suggesting they were LGBT. It was nonsense when Clinton proposed it, and the country finally caught on to what an ingrained policy of discrimination meant for the federal government. The rest of the country (and especially this President) is coming around, thankfully.
No doubt we'll be hearing about Republicans screaming to cut the defense budget now, right?