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October 19, 2011

Gay vets discharged under DADT can sue for full severance

Troops involuntarily discharged under #DADT can pursue their claims for a full severance package, a federal judge has ruled.

In a 40-page decision, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Christine Odell Cook Miller ruled that former Air Force enlisted man Richard Collins and more than 140 other involuntarily discharged veterans can continue their ACLU-backed lawsuit in search of full severance.

The Obama administration, notwithstanding its support for ending the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, had argued the putative class-action lawsuit should be dismissed. Judge Miller set up the issue this way:

"After serving ably for over nine years, plaintiff was involuntarily—albeit honorably—discharged from service on March 10, 2006, pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 654 (2006), the Air Force’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell  policy. At the time of his discharge, plaintiff had attained the rank of Staff Sargent. Plaintiff received $12,851.24 in separation pay, rather than the $25,702.48 that he expected to receive. Plaintiff was informed that the reason his pay had been halved was that his discharge had been for 'homosexuality.'

The Obama administration argues separation pay decisions should be left entirely up to the military. Judge Miller concluded otherwise, stating that "this case is not one of those situations in which the court should stay its hand."




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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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