A law firm that champions religious freedom is reporting a U.S. Air Force sergeant’s discrimination claim has become “much more severe” because he stands accused of lying.
Mike Berry of Liberty Institute says an officer assigned to investigate his client's claim of religious discrimination is accusing Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk of making a false statement about his lesbian commanding officer.
"He read my client his Miranda rights and said the Air Force now suspects my client of making a false official statement, which is in essence basically saying that we think he lied,” Berry tells OneNewsNow.
“We perceive that as a threat or an attempt to intimidate my client as a result of him making this allegation,” Berry adds.
As previously reported on OneNewsNow, Sgt. Monk claims he was relieved of his position as first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, when he disagreed with his lesbian commander about the proper punishment for a subordinate airman who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. That conversation between Monk and Major Elisa Valenzuela revealed that Monk, too, held similar views about homosexuals.
Military personnel have said Monk was not punished and was set to be transferred to another unit, but Monk told The Military Times he was punished for his beliefs.
“I was relieved of my position because I do not agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he told the military newspaper,
Todd Starnes of Fox News broke the story about Monk’s punishment after Starnes was contacted by the sergeant’s pastor. Starnes also reported on the latest news: the threat of court martial against Monk.
Berry, the Liberty Institute attorney, says the situation is now more harrowing for his client.
"Any service member will tell you if you violate the UCMJ, you can be court martialed," Berry explains. “And the potential result of a court martial is being dishonorably discharged from the military and spending time in a military brig potentially. So the situation has become much more severe now."
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Berry says the military prohibits retaliation against service members for filing a complaint against a commanding officer, so Liberty Institute will continue its defense of Sgt. Monk in his religious freedom case.