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Gay soldiers seek missing pay

The Department of Justice is fighting a lawsuit filed on behalf of 142 gay and lesbian service members discharged under the now defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The men and women discharged received a smaller separation package due to their discharge status. The DOJ has asked the federal courts to simply dismiss the suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union looking for $2.1 million in compensation.

Justice Department attorney L. Misha Preheim did not argue the merits of the policy, but said the Department of Defense should be able to determine the separation pay. Preheim said it is not the court’s responsibility to become involved in personnel and payment issues.

Separation pay is given to service members who are involuntarily discharged after six years of service. However, being discharged for reasons such as alcohol abuse, drug use and, previously, under the DADT policy, could cut that payment in half.

The case was originally brought to the media’s attention by Air Force sergeant Richard Collis, who was discharged in 2006 after he was spotted 10 miles off base giving his partner a kiss on the cheek. He was not in uniform at the time.

Collis told CBS News he tried to be cautious when around his partner. “That one time I just happened to lean over and kiss him on the cheek,” he said. “He said something sweet.”

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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