Peter Sprigg is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Christian Post on August 25, 2013.
Yet another Bible-believing member of the Air Force has come forward with a report of negative treatment - in this case, merely because he defended another Service member who had expressed opposition to homosexual "marriage."
Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk told Todd Starnes of Fox News Radio that his openly lesbian commander at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio,Texas had essentially forced him into taking leave rather than completing his assignment. (A Lackland spokesman denied that Monk was punished, insisting to Starnes that he was simply at the end of his assignment.)
Monk was caught in the middle of a situation which involved an instructor who was subjected to an investigation for having told trainees that he opposed homosexual "marriage." Investigators sought to determine whether the unnamed instructor had slandered homosexuals and created a "hostile work environment."
Monk's job was to advise the commander on disciplinary action. According to Monk, however, the commander said from the outset that "we need to lop off the head of this guy." Monk concluded that the instructor's remarks were innocuous, and suggested instead that the incident could teach everyone - on both sides of the debate over homosexuality - about "tolerance" and "diversity."
In the end, the instructor was disciplined with a "letter of counseling" in his official file. The commander, however, demanded to know from Monk "if you can see discrimination if somebody says that they don't agree with homosexual marriage." Monk refused to answer because, "As a matter of conscience I could not answer the question the way the commander wanted me to." Instead, he "said that perhaps it would be best if he went on leave," and the commander agreed.
Monk said to Starnes, "I'm told that members of the Air Force don't have freedom of speech. They don't have the right to say anything that goes against Air Force policy." However, if the homosexual Air Force officer involved in this case thinks that "Air Force policy" requires rejecting the policy choice of three quarters of the States to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, she should think again.
In fact, she may need to be reminded of what the repeal of the 1993 law on homosexuality in the armed forces actually did and did not require. According to the 2010 report of the Pentagon's Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) on repeal, repeal was intended to move the military from a negative position on homosexuality to an officially neutral one - but not to one in which sexual orientation would become a protected category.
On the other hand, the CRWG noted the fears of some Service members that repeal "might limit their individual freedom of expression and free exercise of religion, or require them to change their personal beliefs about the morality of homosexuality." The Pentagon sought to assuage those fears by preserving "existing policies regarding individual expression and free exercise of religion," noting explicitly, "Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs." (Note: the passages on "Moral and Religious Concerns" and on "Equal Opportunity" excerpted above can be found on pages 134-138 of the report.)
The 2010 Congressional vote repealing the 1993 was premised upon these assurances - even though FRC and other pro-family groups warned at the time that they could not be relied upon. We predicted that pro-homosexual activists would demand that only pro-homosexual viewpoints be allowed in the military, and those predictions are now coming true.
If Congress and the Obama administration are unwilling to return to the higher standard of sexual conduct that prevailed until repeal took effect in 2011, they should at least insist that military commanders live up to the promises that were made during the repeal debate of 2010 - that "Service members shall be evaluated only on individual merit, fitness, and capability," and not on their religious convictions.