US: Connecticut Senate votes to restore benefits to veterans denied them under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Senate in the US state of Connecticut on Wednesday voted to approve a bill which would restore state benefits to gay and lesbian veterans who were previously refused them under the US military’s former Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

The Senate voted 34-0 in favour of the legislation, which would make veterans who have been denied federal benefits based on their sexual orientation, eligible fo state benefits. They must also have had their federal benefits reinstated.

The bill will now move to the Connecticut House for consideration, reports the Associated Press.

In February, the US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, confirmed that the Pentagon was to extend some benefits to same-sex military couples.

A statement from Panetta, referred to the repeal of the ban on openly gay military service people, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which was repealed on 20 September 2011.

Between 21 December 1993 and 20 September 2011, lesbian and gay military service members were banned from serving openly under the policy. Service members who violated the policy were discharged.

Senator Carlo Leone, of Stamford, said that this new bill in Connecticut “cannot undo the mistakes of our past”, but said it could help to restore benefits earned by the veterans.

A study released in September 2012 revealed that the repeal of the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military, one year on, had no negative impact.