Speaking on a panel at the 2013 Values Voter Summit with former Undersecretary of Defense Lt. General William Boykin Saturday, Master Sgt. Phillip Monk reflected on being reassigned from the 326th Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to a less prestigious job at the base's 59th Medical Wing by his openly lesbian commanding officer because he disagreed with her on gay marriage.
“I’m sitting there, and [my family is] looking at me, and I just know that I’m trying to teach my boys to do the right thing…. We were reading a verse the other day Job 40:7, and Job goes through a lot of things, right, worse than I could ever imagine and God kind of says, ‘Hey, it’s time to be a man.’"
The Air Force contends that Monk made false statements and that his relocation to another unit at Lackland had already been scheduled. There are no criminal charges being pursued against Monk and the Air Force considers its investigation of the incident closed. The airman remains on active duty.
However, Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute stated in an email to CNSNews.com that on behalf of Monk, Liberty has “filed a complaint with the Air Force Equal Opportunity office, who opened their own, independent investigation.” That probe is still pending.
The Institute disputes the Air Force’s claim that Monk made false statements and points to two separate reassignment orders, one dated September 30, 2013 and another dated August 14, 2013, to back it up.
“This documentation shows that the commander indeed reassigned Monk in a highly irregular manner immediately after her ultimatum to him regarding his views on same-sex marriage. This is totally consistent with his accusation, and totally at odds with the Air Force’s new official explanation,” the Institute said.
Jeff Mateer, another Liberty Institute attorney appearing on the “Erosion of Religious Liberties in the Military” panel, reminded Values Voter attendees that “we do have a First Amendment and just because you become a member of the military doesn’t mean you lose your First Amendment rights.”
“This man [who] sacrificed for us in Iraq perhaps now is facing something tougher. He is one of the few, because we’ve gotten the phone calls, from military members who are undergoing discrimination, who are literally being persecuted because of their beliefs, and with the exception of him right now, those folks who have called us, they’ve all wanted to remain anonymous. But Sergeant Monk, to his credit, is willing to stand up.”
Mateer’s comments were met by thunderous applause from the audience.
Boykin told the crowd that the issue of religious freedom in the military is important because the military “encapsulates” traditional American values.
“You can’t change the society unless you change the military. You’ve got to rid the military of traditional values and historically, the military has been a bastion of traditional American values, the values of our founding fathers, and many of them are encapsulated in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So you have to change the military if you want to change the society," Boykin said.
“And what is happening, based on what we have already discussed in here, is we’re seeing a tremendous assault on religious liberty in our society. But as long as long as you’ve got this big anchor called the U.S. military that is a bastion of traditional values, you’re not going to successfully change the society... And what we’re trying to do, all of us, is we’re trying to stand for the members of the military who cannot stand for themselves.”