A 19-year Air Force veteran has been relieved of his duties because of his refusal to affirm homosexual behavior. Senior Master Sergeant Monk, recently returned from deployment and serving as a first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, found himself at odds with his new commander, an openly homosexual Air Force officer, because of Monk's refusal to agree to disciplinary action against an Air Force instructor over comments the instructor had made about same-sex marriage.
“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” Monk told Fox News. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”
Monk recalled that he knew early in his dealings with the lesbian superior that he was going to have problems. “In one of our first meetings, she was talking about her promotion and she mentioned something about a benediction,” Monk told Fox News. “She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a ‘bigot’ because he preached that homosexuality is a sin. She then said, ‘I don’t know what kind of people actually believe that kind of crap.' I knew I was going to have a rough time in this unit and I would have to be very careful about what I said.”
But it turned out to be what he refused to say that placed him at odds with the homosexual officer. Monk was called in to advise his superior on disciplinary action against the Air Force instructor, who was accused of making derogatory comments against homosexuals and of creating a hostile work environment. But when Monk looked into the instructor's comments he could find nothing amiss, noting that he had simply compared the United States to the doomed ancient Roman Empire, expressing his concern over the similarities.
“He said in spite of our differences, we can’t let that happen to the United States,” Monk recalled, adding that the instructor “used homosexual marriage as an example, saying that he didn’t believe in it, but it doesn’t matter because he was going to train them the same way.”
But when several individuals complained about the instructor's comments, the lesbian superior turned to Monk for his counsel on disciplinary action against the airman, making it clear that she wanted the instructor to pay. “Her very first reaction was to say, ‘We need to lop off the head of this guy,’” Monk recalled. “The commander took the position that his speech was discrimination.”
Instead of agreeing with her, however, Monk suggested that the officer use the incident as an opportunity to teach the importance of tolerating diverse opinions. “I don’t believe someone having an opinion for or against homosexuality is discriminatory,” Monk told Fox News.
That was not the advice Monk's lesbian superior was looking for, and Monk was soon informed that if he didn't get on the same page he would be re-assigned. Monk recalled that in a meeting over the incident his commander essentially demanded that he affirm the homosexual lifestyle. “She said, ‘Sgt. Monk, I need to know if you can, as my first sergeant, if you can see discrimination if somebody says that they don’t agree with homosexual marriage,’” he recalled.
Monk said that his moral convictions forced him to remain silent. “As a matter of conscience I could not answer the question the way the commander wanted me to,” he told Fox. The master sergeant said that his refusal to go along with his homosexual superior led to his firing. “I was essentially fired for not validating my commander’s position on having an opinion about homosexual marriage,” he said.
Monk said that the incident reveals that military policy is completely replacing all aspects of free speech. Concerning the instructor he told Fox: “If this young man had given a speech and said he was good with homosexuality, we wouldn’t be here. The narrative is that you cannot say anything that contradicts Air Force policy.”
He added that the Air Force has essentially instituted a policy that is pushing Christians underground. “Christians have to go into the closet,” he said. “We are being robbed of our dignity and respect. We can’t be who we are.”
Hiram Sasser of Liberty Institute, the conservative legal advocacy group that has agreed to represent Monk in any action against the Air Force, wondered: “Are we going to have a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for Christians so we don’t get harassed for our beliefs? Here’s a guy who wants to have his religious liberty and serve in the military. He shouldn’t have to believe in gay marriage in order to serve.”
The action against Monk appears to be a troubling trend in the Air Force. Earlier this year a 27-year veteran of the Utah Air National Guard was reprimanded and told to prepare for retirement after he wrote an e-mail critical of allowing same-sex wedding ceremonies at a West Point chapel.
“This is wrong on so many levels,” Air Force Sergeant Layne Wilson wrote to a person he thought was a West Point chaplain concerning a “wedding” ceremony of two homosexuals at the academy's sacred Cadet Chapel. “If they wanted to get married in a hotel that is one thing. Our base chapels are a place of worship and this is a mockery to God and our military core values. I have proudly served 27 years and this is a slap in the face to us who have put our lives on the line for this country. I hope sir that you will take appropriate action so this does not happen again.”
The correspondence somehow made its way to West Point's Commandant of Cadets, who notified the Utah Air National Guard — leading to accusations that Wilson had disgraced the Air National Guard and had conducted himself in a way that was inconsistent with Air Force values.
The Air National Guard ruled that Wilson's e-mail had “failed to render the proper respect to a commissioned officer.” A letter from Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Tobias informed Wilson: “You are hereby reprimanded. As a noncommissioned officer you are expected to maintain a standard of professional and personal behavior that is above reproach. You have failed!”
In addition to reprimanding its 27-year Air Force veteran, the Air National Guard terminated Wilson's six-year re-enlistment agreement, and pressured him to retire. Tobias confirmed the actions, recalling in a memorandum that he told Wilson “that maybe this is a good time for him to move on because we’ve been ordered to not have an opinion about gays in the military and we need to treat them as we would treat anyone else in the service of our country.” Tobias added that “I’m not comfortable reenlisting him with his strong feelings about this matter.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said that such incidents point to “a clear and present danger to religious liberty within the military,” adding that “Christians who choose to live out their faith find themselves incompatible with the secular view of this administration.”
Earlier this summer the FRC issued a report detailing a pattern of hostility against religious expression in the armed forces. Perkins said that in a military culture where evangelical Christians are increasingly being targeted as extremists, “the pressure to impose a secular culture on our nation's military has intensified tremendously during President Obama's time as commander-in-chief.”
In July the Obama administration expressed its strong opposition to an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would protect the religious freedoms of men and women in the armed forces. The amendment (Section 530), offered by U.S. Representative John Fleming (R-La.), would specifically expand the “protection of rights of conscience of members of the Armed Forces and chaplains,” according to language in the amendment.