The Family Research Council (FRC) has created a petition in support of a highly-decorated Air Force colonel who was suspended for refusing to sign an unofficial document affirming the same-sex marriage of a retiring subordinate.
Col. Leland Bohannon was suspended from his position as the commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico for refusing to sign a letter of "spousal appreciation" for a retiring master sergeant's same-sex partner.
In a statement posted on Facebook on Friday, the FRC decried the treatment of Bohannon and called on its followers to sign a petition to support the Air Force colonel.
"Leland Bohannon is a decorated colonel who has devoted decades of his life to serving our Air Force. Yet Colonel Bohannon's life and service are about to be completely derailed because he could not in good conscience sign a 'certificate of spouse appreciation' for a service member in a same-sex marriage," the FRC stated.
"As a result, his superior suspended Colonel Bohannon, withheld his decoration, and submitted a poor performance appraisal recommending that he not be promoted. Please sign the petition to support Colonel Bohannon," it continued.
In the petition addressed to United States Air Force Secretary Heath Wilson, the conservative group called on the military to reverse the disciplinary action against Bohannon.
"In addition to correcting Air Force policy to protect religious freedom in this context to ensure this does not happen to anyone else, we respectfully request that you reverse the complaint against Colonel Bohannon and remove any unfavorable materials related to this complaint from his record," the petition stated.
Bohannon was reportedly on the verge of being promoted to brigadier general, but the recommendation for his promotion was revoked after he refused to sign the unofficial document.
The devout Christian colonel 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 requested for a religious accommodation, but the request was returned six weeks later "without action."
According to Baptist Press, Bohannon asked a two-star general to sign the document, prompting the retiring serviceman to file an Equal Opportunity complaint, alleging that the colonel discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation.
The Equal Opportunity investigator had concluded that Bohannon had discriminated against the serviceman, and contended that the colonel would still be guilty of unlawful discrimination even if his request for religious accommodation had been granted.
First Liberty Institute has appealed to the Air Review Boards Agency to reverse the findings and the penalties against Bohannon in order to forestall a lawsuit. The law firm has contended that there is no Air Force instruction requiring a commander to personally sign a spouse certificate.