SAN ANTONIO — A Christian legal organization has filed an equal opportunity military complaint after a Christian Air Force veteran was relieved of his duties and reassigned to another facility for disagreeing with his commander on the issue of homosexual “marriage.”
As previously reported, Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk has served in the Air Force for 19 years, and has been stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. When he recently returned from deployment, he found that he had a new commander, Major Elisa Valenzuela, who is a lesbian.
Monk says that in his early communication with the commander, he knew there would be concerns.
“She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a ‘bigot’ because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” he explained to reporters. “She then said, ‘I don’t know what kind of people actually believe that kind of cr**.’ I knew I was going to have a rough time in this unit and I would have to be very careful about what I said.”
Monk was later asked to advise Valenzuela regarding a disciplinary matter involving an Air Force instructor who had expressed his disagreement with homosexual “marriage” in a written presentation.
“Her very first reaction was to say, ‘We need to lop off the head of this guy,’” he recalled. “The commander took the position that his speech was discrimination.”
However, when Monk read the words at issue, he believed that the instructor had not done anything wrong.
“He was trying to essentially say [that] despite our differences, it’s the Air Force core values that unite us, and in that process he made some sort of statement about, ‘I don’t believe in same-sex marriage, but it doesn’t matter. I’m going to train you the same anyway,’” he explained.
But Valenzuela told Monk that he needed to be on the same page as she was, and that if he didn’t do so, he would be moved elsewhere. She then questioned him on whether he believes it is discrimination for a person to state that they disagree with homosexual “marriage.” He replied that he did not wish to answer because of his convictions.
Monk was then relieved of his duties because he would not affirm Valenzuela’s beliefs. According to the Liberty Institute, the Christian legal organization that is representing Monk, the senior master sergeant was told that he was barred from returning to the building.
This week, attorneys with the Liberty Institute announced that they have filed an equal opportunity complaint against Valenzuela, and also issued her a letter that requests an in-person meeting in an attempt to resolve the situation.
“Unfortunately, SMSgt Monk was not free to confidently practice his particular religion, and his religious beliefs were not accommodated,” the letter states. “This is because of your refusal to respect his beliefs, which may differ from yours. The end result is a degradation of the 326th TRS’s morale, good order, and discipline. Airmen within the unit now have cause to question your impartiality and objectivity. Moreover, because SMSgt Monk’s religious beliefs are protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution, your conduct constitutes unlawful religious discrimination.”
It is not known whether Valenzuela has yet responded to the letter. Military officials state that they are investigating the allegations, but advise that Monk’s rank has not changed as a result of the commander’s decision to relieve him of his duties and reassign him to another facility.