U.S. Air Force officials have reportedly suspended a highly-decorated colonel for refusing to sign an unofficial document affirming the same-sex marriage of a retiring subordinate.
Col. Leland Bohannon, who was on the verge of being promoted to brigadier general, had signed all the requisite documents for a senior noncommissioned service member's May retirement ceremony except for the letter of "spousal appreciation" for the gay serviceman's partner.
His refusal had prompted Air Force officials to suspend him and revoke the recommendation for his promotion.
Bohannon, who is still currently listed as the commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, felt that he could not sign the document because it would affirm a relationship that was contrary to his religious beliefs.
Acting on the advice of his Command Chaplain as well as the Staff Judge Advocate, the colonel asked for a religious accommodation, but his request was returned six weeks later "without action."
Bohannon had asked a two-star general to sign the document instead, but the retiring serviceman filed a complaint, alleging that the colonel discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation.
The EO investigator substantiated the allegation of the retiring serviceman, and contended that even if the religious accommodation had been granted to Bohannon, he would "nonetheless be guilty of unlawful discrimination."
First Liberty Institute, one of the most prominent religious liberty law firm in the U.S., has filed an appeal to the Air Review Boards Agency on behalf of Bohannon.
The law firm is urging the Air Force to reverse its decision, arguing that the military has violated their client's Constitutional rights. It argued that there is no Air Force policy that requires a commander to personally sign a spouse certificate.
"This sends a clear message - if you do not have the politically correct viewpoint, you are not welcome in the military. The military is no longer a place of diversity and inclusion if you are a person who holds to a traditional belief on marriage," First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry told the Todd Starnes Show.
Bohannon, who has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been awarded the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal during the course of his career.
"You have a case where a decorated officer like Col. Bohannon demonstrates integrity and character to go out of his way to accommodate one of his Airmen and the Air Force will not do the same for him," Berry added.