Skip to main content
Tags: lgbtq | pentagon | discrimination | lawsuit

Pentagon Bid to Dismiss LGBTQ Discrimination Suit Denied

By    |   Friday, 21 June 2024 10:30 PM EDT

A federal judge in San Francisco rejected a Pentagon request to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by five LGBTQ former service members who were discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and similar policies.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, blocked the request late Thursday, The Hill reported, ruling the plaintiffs will likely prove the Defense Department violated their right to equal protection under the Fifth and 14th amendments by failing to systematically correct the paperwork of all veterans discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," enacted by the Clinton administration in 1994, and similar policies.

Sherrill Farrell, Stephan "Lilly" Steffanides, and James Gonzales, who were in the Navy; Julianne "Jules" Sohn, who was in the Marine Corps; and Steven Egland, who was in the Army filed the class-action lawsuit in August.

They claim the Pentagon violated their constitutional rights by failing to update them to honorable discharges after repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in 2011. They were dismissed with less-than-honorable discharges more than a decade ago, The Hill reported.

"We are very pleased that the Court recognized the merits of this case by denying the Department of Defense's motion to dismiss," the former service members' legal team of the Impact Fund, Legal Aid at Work, and King & Spalding LLP said in a news release.

"This ruling allows us to move forward in rectifying the discriminatory effects of the Department of Defense's policies, ensuring that LGBTQ+ veterans receive the honor they rightfully deserve, having served our country with dignity and integrity."

Separation documents assigned to service members discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for their actual or perceived sexual orientation denote their sexuality as the reason for their discharges, which the plaintiffs argue violates their privacy, The Hill reported. The discharge papers also deprive them of certain benefits, such as a veteran designation on state IDs or driver's licenses and some military discounts, according to the lawsuit.

"Over 35,000 service members were kicked out of the U.S. military based on sexual orientation and issued paperwork that explicitly called out their actual or perceived sexual orientation," the legal team said.

"Nearly 30,000 were denied honorable discharges, resulting in decades of discrimination — even after 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' was repealed in 2011. These veterans have been forced to carry official yet discriminatory paperwork from the U.S. government that unnecessarily indicates their sexual orientation anytime they try to prove their status as veterans."

In their motion to dismiss, filed in November, Pentagon attorneys cited a 2011 internal policy guidance that instructed military correction boards to grant requests for discharge upgrades following the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," The Hill reported. The guidance noted, though, that "broad, retroactive corrections of records from applicants discharged under DADT are not warranted."

Correction boards have reviewed "more than 1,683 applications by veterans for records correction and have granted relief to more than 1,406 former service members who, like Plaintiffs here, were discharged pursuant to the DADT policies," the department wrote in its motion to dismiss, according to The Hill.

Spero wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs' allegations are sufficient to "raise a plausible inference" that the Pentagon's conduct was intended to injure in some way unjustifiable by any government interest, "namely, to perpetuate discrimination against Plaintiffs based on their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation even after they were wrongfully discharged from the armed services on that basis."

Newsmax reached out to the Pentagon for comment.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


US
A federal judge in San Francisco rejected a Pentagon request to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit filed by five LGBTQ former service members who were discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and similar policies.
lgbtq, pentagon, discrimination, lawsuit
579
2024-30-21
Friday, 21 June 2024 10:30 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
 
TOP

Interest-Based Advertising | Do not sell or share my personal information

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Download the NewsmaxTV App
Get the NewsmaxTV App for iOS Get the NewsmaxTV App for Android Scan QR code to get the NewsmaxTV App
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved