WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Air Force sergeant who filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. military claiming he was fired by his lesbian commander for refusing to make a statement of support for same-sex “marriage” may now face prosecution for taking his accusations public.
Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was relieved of his duties as first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio in August after two separate confrontations with an openly homosexual superior officer, Major Elisa Valenzeula.
The first incident had to do with an Air Force trainer who told trainees he disagreed with state-sanctioned same-sex “marriage” and compared it to the fall of the Roman Empire. After a number of airmen filed complaints about the trainer’s remarks, Monk was ordered to advise Valenzuela regarding potential disciplinary action.
“Her very first reaction was to say, ‘we need to lop off the head of this guy,’” Monk told Fox News. “The commander took the position that his speech was discrimination.”
Monk told Fox News that when he suggested that rather than punishing the trainer harshly for stating his opinion, the major might use the incident as a teaching moment, she told him he “wasn’t on the same page as the commander and if I didn’t get on the page they were on, they would find another place for me to work.”
Later, Monk said Valenzuela called him in and ordered him to tell her whether or not he agreed that expressing opposition to same-sex “marriage” was discriminatory.
“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,’” Monk told Fox News. Believing that to answer honestly would put him in legal hot water, “I refused to answer the question,” Monk said.
Monk’s lawyers told Breitbart.com that Valenzuela then told him that support for gay marriage is military policy now, and that service members are no longer permitted to openly disagree with it.
In an interview with Fox News, Monk said he told Valenzuela that if that were the case, it might be better if he went on leave. Valenzuela agreed, and relieved him of duty.
“I was essentially fired for not validating my commander’s position on having an opinion about homosexual marriage,” Monk said.
Collen McGee, a spokesman for Monk’s unit, told Breitbart.com that Local Operating Instruction 36-03. Section 188.8.131.52 forbids language that “degrades, belittles, or demeans,” or “slanders” anyone’s “sexual orientation,” including speech suggesting homosexual behavior is “immoral.” When Breitbart’s reporter asked if an observant Christian who expressed traditional beliefs regarding sexuality and/or marriage would be in violation of the code, McGee declined to comment.
The Air Force has repeatedly denied that Monk was fired for his beliefs, telling Breitbart.com that he was relieved of duty because his assignment there was finished.
However, Monk’s attorney, Michael Berry, said military documents show the sergeant was not scheduled to complete his assignment until September.
”Monk was not due to rotate to a new assignment until September, as military documents confirm,” Berry told Breitbart.com. “And typically, when you’re due to rotate to a new assignment, that follows a period where you are being shadowed by your replacement to allow for a smooth transition. Another thing they did—which is a drastic departure from standard procedure—is that he was told you are not permitted to return to this unit. He was banned from returning to his training squadron, and had to receive special permission even to pick up his personal items.”
Now, Monk may face criminal prosecution for taking his story to the media.
According to Berry, on Aug. 27, an Air Force investigator called Monk and Berry in for a meeting and read Monk his Miranda rights. The pair was told that Monk is now under investigation for violating Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which prohibits making false official statements. If the military decides they believe him to be guilty of the crime, they will formally press charges and a court martial will be convened. Punishments for court martial offenses range from reductions in rank and pay to dishonorable discharge from the military, or even imprisonment.
“I immediately got the sense that this was a retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint,” Monk said a statement. The military prohibits retaliation against service members for filing a complaint against a commanding officer.