When the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" was officially repealed in 2011, it marked a significant victory for gay and lesbian troops, but soldiers who were discharged before the policy was removed felt somewhat slighted, especially when it came to separation pay. However, a new settlement will pay around $2.4 million to 180 soldiers, The Associated Press reports.
At the heart of the issue was a policy instituted in 1991 that allowed the Department of Defense to only give half of separation pay to soldiers who were involuntarily honorably discharged if they met certain criteria, including being homosexual. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued it was unconstitutional to cut the benefits owed to homosexual soldiers.
"There was absolutely no need to subject these servicemembers 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," Laura Schauer Ives, the managing attorney for ACLU of New Mexico, told the AP.
The settlement marks another step forward for gay and lesbian troops. In 2012, Tammy Smith became the first openly gay general in the Armed Forces when she was promoted to brigadier general, reports NPR.