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ACLU suing Pentagon over separation pay for gays

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

The Pentagon is facing a new legal challenge over its policy on gays serving in uniform. This time it's the American Civil Liberties Union, suing to change the military's policy on the amount of separation pay given to service members discharged for being gay.

The group is representing former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins, who said he wants what is given to other service members forced to leave involuntarily.

At issue is a Defense Department policy that cuts in half the separation pay of service members who have been honorably discharged for being gay after at least six years of service. The policy began in 1991, two years before the "don't ask, don't tell" policy" was formalized, and could be changed without Congressional approval.

Collins, who was stationed at an air base in eastern New Mexico, was honorably discharged in March 2006 for violating "don't ask, don't tell" after nine years of service. He received $12,351 in separation pay instead of the $25,702 he expected.

"The Obama administration has repeatedly said the 'don't ask, don't tell' statute is wrong, but that it needs to work with Congress to repeal the law," said Joshua Block, an ACLU staff attorney. "But the separation pay issue is entirely within the administration's control. The administration can at least take a preliminary step toward backing up its rhetoric with action by addressing this issue promptly and protecting gay and lesbian service members from needless additional discrimination."

The Justice Department and Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit opens up a new line of legal argument as gay rights activists signaled uncertainty this week about legislative efforts to lift the ban on gays in the military. Though the Senate could consider the issue during the lame-duck session that begins next week, it must also address several economic issues that could dominate most of the session. Senate leaders may strip language lifting the ban from the annual defense authorization bill, which lawmakers also are likely to consider.

The White House has said President Obama will not support a defense bill that doesn't include a repeal of the policy. Gay rights groups are likely to file several other lawsuits if Congress failed to end the ban this year.

A federal court case brought by the Log Cabin Republicans is under consideration by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. On Wednesday the Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the Pentagon to keep enforcing "don't ask, don't tell" as the case continues. LCR on Monday asked the high court to end enforcement of the gay ban immediately and the justices could rule at any time.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | November 12, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Comments

Some of the Air Force sergeant's coworkers spotted him kissing his boyfriend in a car off base and reported him. When I was in the Army, we spotted the company commander kissing the wife of one of his lieutenants in a car off base - but that was OK because they were heterosexuals.

What a bizarre police-state spectacle of hate in the name of poor old Jesus has America become. More to follow as the teabaggers continue the completion of their dreams of a white-supremicist Jesuslandia dominating the rest of us as well.

Posted by: areyousaying | November 12, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

The Obama administration loves hating gay people behind their backs. They are indeed to blame for the rash of recent gay suicides. The entire administration could do It gets better videos but we all know they're talking out of the side of their mouth. I won't vote for Barack Obama next time. He's proven himself to be an enemy to a portion of America that I hold dear. Don't get excited republicans because it doesn't mean I'm voting for you.

Posted by: madest | November 12, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

"When I was in the Army, we spotted the company commander kissing the wife of one of his lieutenants in a car off base - but that was OK because they were heterosexuals."

No, it wasn't, it was a crime. That captain should have been court-martialed, sent to prison, and given a BCD.

So you participated in a cover-up of a crime and you want us to think that that somehow makes don't-ask'don't-tell bad?

The rest of us aren't fooled by you.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

"The Obama administration loves hating gay people behind their backs. They are indeed to blame for the rash of recent gay suicides."

Wow, hysterical much?

The Obamanites do not "hate gays". That's a ridiculous and hysterical charge. He just recognizes that he would expend more political capital than he would gain by attacking DADT head-on.

Please remember that America's most homophibic voting block is African-American. Obama absolutely cannot win any election whatosever if he gets less than 90% of their votes.

So DADT is political kryptonite for Obama. He really, really can't touch it. It has nothing to do with hating anyone.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Don't you think that homeless children deserve more attention for the part of mass media?

Posted by: PeculiarDemocracy | November 12, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

ZZim,

areyousaying was expressing sarcasm, and you missed it.

He/She was not "participating", nor was he condoning heterosexual adultery, but he was rather pointing out the double standard which clearly exists.

This went completely over your head. Please try to comprehend next time.

Posted by: customartist1500 | November 12, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

It's unfortunate that a number of gays are too focused on trivial concessions in rhetoric that Obama has to make in order to please middle America. Obama cannot vocally and openly advocate for gay rights, because he ostensibly has to stay reasonably close to the middle.

If you look at his practice, repealing Don't ask Don't tell for example, and the rhetoric from before he was trying to get the vote, you will realize that he is quite liberal and does support gay rights.

When proposing a challenge to the changes that are being made, Obama sent the most junior lawyer he could find because _he is required to appeal as president_.

The nation is changing and moving forward and Obama is right there to push it forward as much as he can.

Have you forgotten the presidential memo sent to hospitals telling them to allow gay partners to have full access? He sent it in order to allow hospitals to do what they've been wanting to do for a long time without fear of repercussions.

Obama and others have to take baby steps, and steps that are legally sound. And as he said, his promises weren't, "I'll do it all, and I'll do it now." None of the changes are instantaneous, or even quick.


The other problem I have with gay rights advocates is the thinking that their cause is the only one that matters, and everything else should be ignored until gays have equal rights in everything.

Obama has a lot on his plate, and sorry to say, but gay rights are not nearly as important as assuring the American economy doesn't collapse entirely into another great Depression. And how about health care reform?

Sure, I'd like to be able to go and get married now, and have the Federal government and every state recognize my marriage. But Obama doesn't possess a magic wand, and I care much more about having a job and health care that doesn't screw me than getting married now.

And being gay is only a small part of who I am. Why is it necessary to parade your gayness around? How about just living as who you are and not throwing it in everyone's face?

Work for change, but be patient, because it doesn't come immediately.

Posted by: ABurstofLogic | November 12, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse


He committed a fraudulent enlistment, he shouldn’t receive any separation pay.

Posted by: nuke41 | November 12, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

As a hetro, who strongly supports the rights of people of all orientations, I am in total agreement with ABurstofLogic. If it weren't for a couple of other responsibilities that he has, he would be all over this issue like a big dog. My guess is that the WH was not aware of a policy decision about separation pay. It smacks of a policy to pay African-American soldiers during the Civil War, 1/2 the pay of whites. However in that case, it was Federal Law, rather than executive decision that made that happen.

Posted by: cyberfool | November 12, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

ZZim,

areyousaying was expressing sarcasm, and you missed it.

He/She was not "participating", nor was he condoning heterosexual adultery, but he was rather pointing out the double standard which clearly exists.

This went completely over your head. Please try to comprehend next time.

Posted by: customartist1500

= = = = = = = = =

I see, so you think he MADE UP the story about seeing the Captain committing a crime to that he could enforce his IMAGINARY view of the situation.

Got it.

If that's true, then he's a liar. He invents a "double standard" and then, totally lacking evidence, makes some up.

I don't respect that at all.

The military has ZERO tolerance for adultery. It always has, it always will. Adultery is one of the leading causes of dismissal of senior officers. It is NOT tolerated.

You are wrong.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

The problem with repealing DADT is that it does not change the UCMJ, specifically Article 125 “-(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. It is unnatural carnal copulation for a person to take into that person’s mouth or anus the sexual organ of another person or of an animal; or to place that person’s sexual organ in the mouth or anus of another person or of an animal; or to have carnal copulation in any opening of the body, except the sexual parts, with another person; or to have carnal copulation with an animal. "-DADT Actually offered some protection from Article 125. With DADT gone it's back to the witch hunts. No court will negate 125 because it applies to everyone equally. We need a better solution.

Posted by: paul_macleod | November 12, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Officers and NCOs alike are discharged from the Army for Adultery. It is still a article in the UCMJ.

I have known 6 such officers who were thrown out, and quickly.

Bottom line, there is no double standard. In fact you can't compare the two actions since one depends upon that fact that one of the parties involved is legally married.

Speaking of Marriage, that to me is the biggest roadblock to ending DADT. Since at this point, DOD is probably in a conundrum over how they will, AND IF, they will provide benefits to homosexual couples, in whatever standard defines a "homesexual couple".

And I agee with others that homosexuals don't have a right to flaunt their orientation at work inasmuch as I do to put a political sticker up at work. This is not a civil rights issue or else it would have been addressed many years ago.

Posted by: DonnyKerabatsos | November 12, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"He committed a fraudulent enlistment, he shouldn’t receive any separation pay."

Your comment shows you're ignorant of the law. It is legal for Gay and Lesbians to enlist and serve if they keep their sexuality secret.

Posted by: pnwmainah1 | November 12, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Officers and NCOs alike are discharged from the Army for Adultery. It is still a article in the UCMJ.

I have known 6 such officers who were thrown out, and quickly.

Bottom line, there is no double standard.

Posted by: DonnyKerabatsos

= = = = = = = = = = =

Exactly right.

A number of years ago a drunken (and married) Major thought he could hit on my sister, a young Lieutenant. He wouldn't take "no" for an answer and the MPs had to haul the guy away. The next morning the General arrived in the office at 5AM. At 5:25 the still-not-quite-sober Major was blinking sleepily in front of the General's desk. At 10AM the now-sober Major was on a flight back to the states, career over.

In the military, zero-tolerance for sexual misconduct means ZERO-tolerance.

Liberals really don't understand military culture at all.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

ZZim found it amusing to post: "Liberals really don't understand military culture at all."

On the contrary, ZZim, Yes we do. We think it's a fine and honorable culture. But it's been used by zipper heads who like to criticize and ridicule others who don't subscribe to their uber-patrioty BS, which means agreeing with defending the shroud of myth Exceptionalist USA policy even if it means doing it criminally. The definition of an honorable military culture has been usurped by zipperheads pushing war because it makes them feel powerful. When it needs to happen, as a last result, and not because a bunch of "all patrioty and stuff" boneheads want to push their weight around, then the honorable military culture takes stage.

So please feel free to step up and shut the pie holes of these patrioty and stuff zipperheads whenever you see it happening. They do not represent, nor do they have any authority to preach patriotism to anyone, anytime, or in any forum. Their shiny little flag lapel pin and all notwithstanding.

You are not a part of THAT culture now, are you ZZim?

Posted by: fmamstyle | November 12, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse


Silly Dims, the Captain of the nuclear submarine Ohio was sacked by the Navy less than two month ago for adultery:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/09/navy-3-officers-sacked-091710w/

The BS notion that only homos get fired from the military for sexual misconduct is just that... BS.


Posted by: screwjob22 | November 12, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Zzim, I don't know what army you were in (maybe Blackwater if you even served at all) but, at that time, a subordinate did not do well to make adultery accusations against his commanding officer.

Of course, reporting gays was, and apparently still is, an entirely different and delightfully accepted matter. People swoon at the heroics of "NCIS Los Angeles" but the real NCIS spends most of its time on gay witch hunts.

As far as respect, the problem for America is that you and your ilk don't respect anyone who is different from you in any way - it's the teabagger dream for a twisted, intolerant and homophobic Jesuslandia.

Posted by: areyousaying | November 12, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Zzim, I don't know what army you were in (maybe Blackwater if you even served at all) but, at that time, a subordinate did not do well to make adultery accusations against his commanding officer.

Posted by: areyousaying

= = = = = = = = = =

I was an officer in the United States Army and served in Iraq in the 1st Gulf War. Adultery and sex with subordinates WAS and IS a known instant-career-death offense.

That may have been untrue during the post-Viet Nam War era of the “Hollow Army”, I don’t know.

My sister is approaching the 20-year mark of her career. As my story above illustrates, sexual harassment does occur (can’t help it, the military is staffed by Humans), but it’s dealt with swiftly and harshly. In addition to the incident above, my sister has also been involved with the dismissal from service of a full colonel and a 1-star admiral who weren’t able to resist the allure of the young women under her command.

The military does NOT wink-and-nod at sexual misconduct just because the participants are heterosexual.

If you want to complain about DADT, that’s all well and good. But alleging that the military allows heterosexual sexual misconduct just makes you look clueless and out-of-touch.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

ZZim found it amusing to post: "Liberals really don't understand military culture at all."

On the contrary, ZZim, Yes we do. We think it's a fine and honorable culture. But it's been used by zipper heads …. uber-patrioty BS, …. zipperheads … boneheads …. zipperheads

You are not a part of THAT culture now, are you ZZim?

Posted by: fmamstyle

= = = = = = = = = = =

Umm, no.

I’m actually more-or-less indifferent to the “gays in the military” issue. Same with the gay marriage issue. I only posted here because I was annoyed by the allegation that heterosexual sexual misconduct is tolerated by the US military when I know this to be false.

I can see both sides of the half-separation-pay issue, so I’m not real excited about it from either side.

.

Posted by: ZZim | November 12, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

zzim certainly doesn't need, and may not even want, my comment. But I did check back on screwjob22's link and did some further checking and there have in fact been several instances of straight commanding officers relieved of their commands for having outside fun and games that came to the attention --sometimes unmistakable attention -- of their crews. (E.g., if you're taking your submarine out of port, maybe you shouldn't spend a lot of time talking to your girlfriend on your cellphone and not paying attention to where you're going.)

That notwithstanding, it has been reliably reported that there ARE a great many instances of straight sexual harassment and worse for which there has been no punishment.

And also, if one were to credit the logic of supporters of DADT, married straight people should be barred from holding either the rank or the position of captain of a Navy or Coast Guard vessel.

Posted by: edallan | November 12, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I have posted this already here before You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://bit.ly/bandYw .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and believe me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: patriciajeff13 | November 13, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

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