SAN ANTONIO — A Christian Air Force veteran that was recently in headlines after being punished by his commander for declining to affirm homosexual marriage, reportedly may face court-martial proceedings as investigators now accuse him of filing a false discrimination complaint.
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 and reassigned 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.
However, the Liberty Institute now reports that investigators are accusing the Air Force veteran of making false statements in his discrimination complaint. Monk says that he believes the accusation is retaliation for blowing the whistle against his commander.
“I was stunned and immediately felt that this was a retaliation against me for coming forward with my religious discrimination complaint,” he said.
The Liberty Institute outlined in a news release on Friday that charges could be forthcoming, and if so, there is a possibility that Monk could be court-martialed.
“The Air Force must now decide whether it will charge SMSgt Monk with the crime of making a false official statement,” it explained. “In the military, making a false official statement is punishable by court-martial.”
Attorney Mike Berry advised that the Christian legal organization will continue to defend Monk as it believes that his account is truthful.
“We are hopeful that the Air Force will do the right thing by clearing SMSgt Monk’s name and reputation, and supporting his and every Airman’s right to express, without fear of punishment, their religious convictions,” he said.