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Gov't opposes full severance pay for military gays

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US opposes severance pay for gays ousted from militaryTwo days after repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays serving openly in the military, the Obama administration was in court Thursday opposing a lawsuit seeking full severance pay for those dismissed under the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking class action status for 142 people who only got half pay after their discharge because of being gay. But the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to dismiss the case.

Judge Christine Odell Cook Miller said she probably will let the case continue and questioned why the government wouldn't pay now that the law has changed.

"Your timing is exquisite - two days after the policy goes into effect eliminating `don't ask, don't tell,' here we are," she said as she took the bench.

"I would consider this to be an unenviable argument to have at this time," she told the government's attorney later.

The case was filed by the ACLU on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins of Clovis, N.M. He was honorably discharged in 2006 after nine years of service when two civilians who worked with him at Cannon Air Force Base reported they saw him kiss his boyfriend in a car about 10 miles from the base. The decorated sergeant was off-duty and not in uniform at the time, according to the lawsuit.


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