“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” said Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk to Fox News. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”
The Liberty Institute, a public interest law firm, has been called to represent Monk in the event the Pentagon decides to retaliate further.
“Are we going to have a ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy for Christians so we don’t get harassed for our beliefs?” attorney Hiram Sasser asked Fox News. “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.”
Thus far, officials at Lackland Air Force Base say Monk was not punished for his beliefs and claim he was let go because he was at the end of his assignment.
Monk tells a much different story which begins with his return from deployment in 2011 when he found himself under the command of a lesbian who was openly hostile to anyone who did not accept homosexuality. He sensed trouble ahead, and ran into it the day he was called in to advise the commander on a disciplinary matter involving an Air Force instructor accused of making comments objecting to gay marriage.
Monk determined the instructor meant no harm by his public comments which consisted of comparing the United States with the fall of the Roman Empire.
“He said in spite of our differences, we can’t let that happen to the United States,” Monk said about the instructor. “He then 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.”
The commander wanted Monk to recommend disciplinary action against the instructor, and she wanted it to be severe. However, he suggested she use the incident as a teaching moment to instruct personnel on the need for tolerance and diversity.
She didn't like his suggestion and accused him of not being "on the same page" with. If he didn't get on the same page, she would find him another place to work.
“I don’t believe someone having an opinion for or against homosexuality is discriminatory,” Monk told Fox. “I’m being chastised about what’s going on. I’m told that members of the Air Force don’t have freedom of speech. They don’t have the right to say anything that goes against Air Force policy.”
The commander eventually put Monk on the spot when she ordered him to answer a question about whether people who object to gay marriage are guilty of discrimination.
“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 said. “I refused to answer the question.”
Monk said to answer would have put him in a legal predicament.
“And as a matter of conscience I could not answer the question the way the commander wanted me to,” he said.
He suggested that it might be best if he went on leave, and the commander agreed.
“I was essentially fired for not validating my commander’s position on having an opinion about homosexual marriage,” he said.
In essence, he said, Christians are now trading places with homosexuals.
“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.”
Although he's afraid to speak out for fear of the several penalties he may have to suffer, he's a devout Christian who wants to set the right example for his three teenage sons.
“The Monk family will be strong in mind, strong in soul, they will have strong character and strong work ethic,” he said. “That is the ethos of our family. That’s what I hope they see in me.”
And more importantly, he wants them to see “a man who stands upright and stands for integrity.”
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