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ACLU Lens: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Ends Tomorrow, But Not Its Sorry Legacy for Discharged Service Members

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September 19, 2011

You can play “Taps” tomorrow for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that prevented gay service members from serving openly.

The policy itself will be consigned to the dustbin of history when its repeal takes effect Tuesday. However, its legacy will still be felt by service members honorably discharged during the 18 years DADT was in place.

Richard Collins was one of them. Collins was a decorated Air Force staff sergeant, who was spotted kissing his boyfriend off-base and not in uniform. Collins, who served for nine years, was honorably discharged. But a Pentagon policy dictated that service members booted out of the military for “homosexuality,” only receive half of the separation pay they would be entitled to.

That policy was never a part of the DADT law. Despite President Obama, a.k.a. the Commander-in-Chief, signing the repeal, the Pentagon has refused to rescind the policy. Collins is part of a class-action suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the separation-pay gap that will be the subject of a federal court hearing on Thursday.

As Collins wrote Saturday in the Stars and Stripes newspaper: “We gave our all in serving this nation. The Pentagon should not give us half in return.”

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