In a pivotal legal battle, a group of former LGBTQ members of the U.S. Armed Forces has embarked on a journey to challenge the Department of Defense for their denial of honorable discharges due to their sexual identities. Here’s the full story.
A group of former LGBTQ veterans are demanding not only rectification of their records but also justice for the discrimination they faced.
Honorable Discharges Denied
At the core of the legal battle lies the denial of honorable discharges to former service members based on their LGBTQ status.
Stripped of Entitlement
By being denied this recognition, these veterans were unjustly stripped of access to a range of vital veteran benefits, such as healthcare, loan programs, and college tuition assistance.
All in the Records
The lawsuit also underscores the violation of privacy experienced by these former service members when their sexual orientations were recorded on their service records.
The DADT Policy
While many of the veterans were discharged under the now-defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, they are now appealing to contemporary U.S. leadership to right the wrongs of the past.
According to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, more than 13,000 military personnel were discharged due to DADT.
A Significant Step
The Trump administration’s 2017 ban on transgender individuals serving in the military further compounded these issues, but the subsequent repeal of this policy by the Biden administration in 2021 marked a significant step towards inclusivity.
In their pursuit of justice, plaintiff Steven Egland, a U.S. Army veteran, said, “Our government and leaders have long acknowledged that the military’s discrimination against LGBTQ+ service members — and what was done to me — was wrong. The time has come to rectify it by correcting our records. All of those who served deserve to have documents that reflect the honor of our service.”
“Because of the circumstances and language of my discharge, which served as a painful reminder of the trauma I experienced, I was never able to proudly say that I served my country,” he added.
The Legal Battle
The legal battle coincides with efforts in Congress and the Senate to recognize and apologize for the mistreatment of LGBTQ members of the military in previous years.
Not an Easy Time for the LGBTQ Veterans
However, the lawsuit argues that without fundamental changes to the discharge upgrade process, the government’s ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ veterans will continue.
Willing to Lay Down Life
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “I never understood why the sexual orientation of the soldiers mattered as they defended this country and were willing to lay down their life for us?”
Nothing to Do With Military Service
Another User wrote, “Because your SEXUALITY has absolutely NOTHING to do with military service, making it the focus of your personality or identity detracts from ALL / TEAM (places focus on SELF)…which jeopardizes mission success. THAT’S WHAT DON’T ASK DON’T TELL EXISTS FOR.”
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