Biden expected to pardon 2,000 veterans convicted over gay sex

President Joe Biden is reportedly expected to pardon hundreds of veterans convicted by the military over a 62-year period for having consensual same-sex relations.

The president is expected to announce the pardon Wednesday, three unnamed officials told CNN. The pardon will affect roughly 2,000 people, one U.S. official said.

The decision would specifically apply to those convicted under Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which criminalized sodomy among service members from 1951 until 2013.

While the pardon won’t automatically clear the record of military personnel convicted of violating or attempting to violate the now-defunct law, it will allow those veterans to apply for a certificate of pardon and ultimately receive withheld benefits, according to the report.

Eligible service members will first need to fill out an online application and then send it to their service department. After their case is approved, a pardon attorney will issue a certificate of pardon, which can then be used to change a service member’s discharge characterization.

Some types of discharges make service members ineligible for VA benefits, such as home loans, health care and disability compensation, as well as education and burial benefits.

In 2021, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that service members who were kicked out of the military due to their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status were finally eligible to receive full benefits.

That announcement came on the 10th anniversary of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the discriminatory policy that prohibited openly gay, lesbian and bisexual service members from serving in the armed forces.

In September 2023, the Defense Department announced it would encourage LGBTQ veterans who were discharged “under other than honorable conditions” before the repeal of DADT to seek correction to their military records.