Trenton – The Senate today voted to pass legislation sponsored by Senators Vin Gopal and Nia Gill that would require the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (DMVA) to assist service members discharged solely due to LGBTQ+ status with petitions to change their discharge designation.
The bill, S.2815, would hold the DMVA responsible for helping former LGBTQ service members with petitioning the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with the necessary forms and conditions to have their designation of the discharge changed and recorded as honorable.
“Members of the LGBTQ+ community that served our country that were discharged on the basis of their gender identity and/or sexual orientation were done a great injustice,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “This legislation is a step in the right direction to right that previous wrong and ensure that former service members are afforded the respect they deserve.”
“Over 100,000 LGBTQ+ vets have been shamefully denied the benefits and support they have earned protecting this country, due to discriminatory discharges over their sexual orientation,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex, Passaic). “With this legislation, the DMVA will be tasked with assisting our service members in obtaining the benefits they are entitled to for their service.”
Rhode Island and New York have enacted laws that restored state military benefits to veterans who were discharged under less than honorable conditions due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 32-0.