January 7, 2013
Military personnel who had their separation pay cut in half after being discharged for being gay will receive their full pay under a legal settlement announced today. The settlement comes in Collins v. United States, a class action suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and its New Mexico affiliate. It is named for lead plaintiff Richard Collins, who was honorably discharged from the Air Force after being observed kissing his boyfriend but saw his separation pay cut because his discharge was for homosexuality. “There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life,” said Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, in a press release. “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.” The pay reduction was a Defense Department policy and not part of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, so it did not change when the law was repealed, ACLU officials noted.