ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Dozens of gay and lesbian former military service members who were discharged due to their homosexuality will receive the rest of their severance pay under a settlement approved Monday by a federal court.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the $2.4 million settlement covers more than 180 veterans who received only half of their separation pay under a policy that went into effect in 1991.
Laura Schauer Ives, the managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, called the settlement a "long-delayed justice."
A Pentagon is aware of the settlement, a spokesman said.
The case was filed in 2010 by the ACLU on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins of Clovis, N.M. He was honorably discharged in 2006 after two civilians who worked with him at Cannon Air Force Base reported they saw him kiss his boyfriend in a car about 10 miles from the base. The decorated sergeant was off-duty and not in uniform at the time.
Separation pay is granted to military personnel who serve at least six years but are involuntarily and honorably discharged. The Defense Department had a list of conditions that triggered an automatic reduction in that pay, including homosexuality, unsuccessful drug or alcohol treatment or discharge in the interests of national security.