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Biden pardons those convicted of gay sex under old military laws

Some 2,000 people are thought to have been convicted under laws that banned sodomy and attempted sodomy in the military from 1951 to 2013.
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The Biden administration announced Wednesday it was pardoning potentially thousands of U.S. veterans who were convicted under old military rules that prohibited gay sex.

The pardons affect veterans who had been convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 125, which criminalized sodomy and attempted sodomy from 1951 until 2013, when Congress repealed the ban.

President Biden said the pardons reflect a sacred obligation to all veterans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves," President Joe Biden said in a statement. "Our Nation’s service members stand on the frontlines of freedom, and risk their lives in order to defend our country. Despite their courage and great sacrifice, thousands of LGBTQI+ service members were forced out of the military because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some of these patriotic Americans were subject to court-martial, and have carried the burden of this great injustice for decades."

Some 2,000 people convicted under the law had military benefits withheld, but the pardon would allow them to apply to have them reinstated.

Those pardoned will now also be able to apply to the board of corrections for their military branch to have their discharge status corrected.

Those who committed nonconsensual acts, including rape, will not be eligible for a pardon.