A 19-year United States Air Force veteran was relived of his duties at a Texas Air Force base after voicing his religious disapproval of same-sex marriage to his openly lesbian commanding officer, according to The Military Times.
Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, assigned to the 37th Training Wing at Lackland Airforce Base, told The Times he was relieved of his duties on July 26 as first sergeant of a training squadron and forced to take leave because of the disagreement. The “very, very contentious” argument happened as follows:
Monk, an evangelical Christian, said the issue came up when he was advising his commander about a situation involving a staff sergeant who had expressed opposition to homosexuality on religious grounds — an opinion shared with trainees that might be a violation of an Air Force policy barring the use of a position of authority to promote personal religious beliefs.
Monk said he wanted the incident to be treated as a learning experience, but the commander wanted to do more. Monk said this led to a discussion in which the commander pressed him into saying he also had a moral objection to gay marriage.
He later received an official notice of an infraction, and was relived of his duties. Monk then received special permission to gather his belongings. While he ceded he was due for reassignment, he said he was concerned that the dispute could impact whether or not he will receive a Meritorious Service Medal for which his commander had recommended him in late June.
Last year, Congress approved “rights of conscience” for military members, allowing them to express personal beliefs without the threat of punishment. The law says the military must respect “conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs of the member and, so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs as the basis for any adverse personnel action.”