HRC Blog

Service Members Honorably Discharged for Being Gay or Lesbian Entitled to Full Separation Pay

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

Service members honorably discharged from the military under laws and policies prohibiting service by gays and lesbians, since November 2004, will be given their full separation pay, based on a settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU against the federal government.  Under federal law, service members who serve at least six years and are honorably discharged are entitled to separation pay.  But in 1991, the Pentagon issued regulations cutting separation pay in half if the reason for the discharge was “homosexuality.”     

That regulation was not directly tied to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law – in fact, it was adopted before DADT was passed – and thus was unaffected by repeal of the law. According to the ACLU, the amount of money withheld from the 181 impacted service members totaled approximately $2.4 million.

The settlement applies to those honorably discharged from November 10, 2004 onward – that’s as far back as possible based on the statute of limitations.

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