Colonel, Stripped of Command for Refusing to ‘Appreciate’ Retiree’s Gay Spouse, Wins Appeal

By Craig Bannister | April 5, 2018 | 5:05pm EDT
Col. Leland Bohannon (Screenshot)

Decorated Air Force combat pilot Col. Leland Bohannon, who was stripped of his command and denied promotion opportunity for refusing to sign a certificate of appreciation for a retiree’s gay spouse, has won an appeal affirming religious liberty.

Bohannon did not sign the “optional, unofficial” spouse appreciation letter because he has a deeply-held religious objection to gay marriage and did not want to appear to endorse an immoral union – so, he had a superior, a two-star general, sign it.

But, that wasn’t good enough for the indignant gay retiree, who filed a complaint against Bohannon, “Stars and Stripes” reports:

“When the retiring master sergeant found out that Bohannon did not personally sign the spouse certificate, he filed an Equal Opportunity complaint, alleging the colonel unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation.”


“The Air Force substantiated the airman’s allegations, and Bohannon was subsequently removed from command and for consideration for promotion. He appealed the decision in October.”

But, with the support of congressmen like Rep. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and the legal help of First Liberty Institute, Bohannon won his appeal and the Air Force agreed to correct its records:

“The Air Force said that Col. Leland Bohannon “had the right to exercise his sincerely held religious beliefs and did not unlawfully discriminate when he declined to sign the certificate,” according to a letter sent Monday by Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to members of Congress who supported Bohannon.”

Rep. Lamborn, who spearheaded a letter also signed by several of his colleagues to the Air Force on behalf of Bohannon’s appeal, discussed the victory for religious freedom in an interview with Todd Starnes on Fox News Radio.

In the interview, Lamborn defended the religious rights affirmed by the Air Force’s appeals board – and explained how, just last week, he had succeeded in convincing the Navy to drop its plans to institute “atheist chaplains.”


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