In November, I reported about a Federal lawsuit the ACLU has filed against the Department of Defense: ACLU To Obama Stop Cutting Gay Soldiers Pay In Half!
At issue is a totally discretionary DOD policy that cuts the separation pay of soldier “found” to be gay, lesbian or bisexual in half. It is not part of DADT and would require no Congressional action to rectify. Still after nearly two years of the ACLU negotiating with the DOD to change the policy, the ACLU had to resort to filing a Federal lawsuit.
Today the Department of Justice asked the court to dismiss the case. Apparently they feel discriminatory pay practices based on sexual orientation have no merit.
ACLU press release after the fold.
Justice Department Asks Court To Throw Out Case Challenging Discriminatory Separation Pay Policy For Gay And Lesbian Veterans
ACLU Seeks Justice For Honorably Discharged Service Members In Ongoing Class Action Lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2011
WASHINGTON- The Department of Justice (DOJ) today filed a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Mexico which seeks full separation pay for service members who were honorably discharged but had their separation pay cut in half because of “homosexuality.” In the past six years, 142 honorably discharged veterans had their separation pay cut in half because of the discriminatory policy. The total amount of separation pay withheld from those veterans is approximately $2.1 million.
The lawsuit was filed in November 2010, before Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred gay or lesbian service members from the military. The lead plaintiff in the case is Richard Collins, a former staff sergeant in the Air Force who served for nine years until he was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Collins was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. In its response, the DOJ states that the half-separation pay policy applies not only to those who engage in “Homosexual Conduct,” but also those discharged from the military for drug and alcohol abuse or being deemed a national security risk.
Joshua Block, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project:
“The government’s decision to contest these claims is baffling. These honorably discharged veterans were forced out of the military under the unconstitutional and discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, which is in the process of being repealed. All that these veterans are asking for is to receive the same separation pay that any other honorably discharged veteran would have received. It is outrageous to equate these service members with those who were discharged for threats to national security and drug abuse. The government’s treatment of these veterans is shameful and adds insult to injury.”
Laura Ives, staff attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico:
“The Department of Justice’s action today is profoundly disappointing. The government must treat our veterans with the fairness and dignity they deserve, especially if those veterans were discharged from the armed forces under a policy that is in the process of being dismantled for being unconstitutional.”
For more information on the ACLU’s case please visit ACLU’s site.
Really, DOJ? The Federal Government has spent trillions of dollars on Mideast misadventures and no-bid contracts to Blackwater and Halliburton and the Department of Defense can’t just suck it up, give these LGB Veterans the $2.1 million, and a well-deserved apology?
I find it incomprehensible the DOJ and DOD could not have just quietly settled this out of court for a measly $2.1M. Also inexcusable.
Thanks administration for mentioning gays in the Mother’s Day proclamation. That was swell. Even if our service to the country is only worth half as much as straight people’s. Or the same as drug addicts and criminals.