But then equality happened, and DADT was repealed, and this week, due to a settlement in a class-action lawsuit, the Pentagon has agreed to pay full separation pay to all service members involuntarily separated from the military.
Sadly, this only applies to military men and women ousted after Nov. 10, 2004, because of a statute of limitations. Gay men and women discharged before November 2004 have no standing in the case.
According to the ACLU, which brought the action against the Defense Department, the half pay was the result of an internal policy adopted in 1991.
Troops are entitled to separation pay if they are involuntarily and honorably discharged after completing at least six years of service, and their separation pay is calculated based on years of active service and the member’s basic pay when at the time he or she was discharged.
That didn't sit well with former Air Force staff sergeant, Richard Collins, the lead plaintiff in the suit. He had served nine years when two civilian co-workers witnessed him kiss his boyfriend; they reported "The Kiss" his superiors.
Now, because of the settlement, Collins will receive his full separation pay to which he is entitled.
“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. We gave all we had to our country, and just wanted the same dignity and respect for our service as any other veterans.”--Richard Collins, on the settlement.
Now, the government will be contacting all the service men and women who were discharged after November 2004 and notify them that they are eligible for equal benefits.
Every day, another step forward. Every day.