A group of LGBTQ+ veterans who were kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation filed a federal civil rights suit on Tuesday over the Defense Department’s failure to grant them honorable discharges or remove biased language specifying their sexuality from their service records following the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010.
The class action lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of five veterans, claims the Pentagon’s failure to correct this “ongoing discrimination” represents a violation of constitutional rights.
“Requiring LGBTQ+ veterans to first bear the stigma and discriminatory effects of carrying indicators of sexual orientation on their [discharge papers] and then navigate a broken record correction process to seek resolution violates their constitutional rights to equal protection, informational privacy, property, and due process protected by the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution,” the suit says.
It’s been more than a decade since the military lifted its longstanding ban on gay and lesbian troops. But thousands of those discharged under past discriminatory policies like “don’t ask, don’t tell” are still carrying less than honorable discharges today, depriving them of the full spectrum of benefits including VA loan programs, college tuition assistance, health care and some jobs.