Politics

Air Force Colonel Suspended for Not Endorsing Same-Sex Marriage

The American Family Association and eight U.S. senators are asking people to sign a petition to give Col. Bohannon his job back

The American Family Association is asking Americans to sign a petition requesting that the U.S. Air Force reinstate Col. Leland Bohannon after suspending him back in May for his religious convictions.

Bohannon, who received the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan, is a devout Christian and has served in the Air Force for 20 years. But the colonel found himself slapped with an Equal Opportunity complaint after he declined to sign a “certificate of spouse appreciation” and affirm the same-sex marriage of a retiring master sergeant. Bohannon, who was the commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico at the time, said he was moving toward a promotion to one-star general before his suspension.

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The First Liberty Institute, which is representing Bohannon, wrote an appeal letter on Bohannon’s behalf to the Air Force on October 5, noting that the colonel’s religious beliefs prohibited him from signing the certificate, the Albuquerque Journal reported. After seeking advice, Bohannon filed a religious accommodation request to grant him an exemption from the signing. The request was returned “without action.”

Instead, investigators found that the Christian colonel discriminated against the retiring master sergeant, which led to Bohannon’s removal from command. In addition, one of Bohannon’s superior officers urged the Air Force Brigadier General promotion board to refuse to grant Bohannon the promotion.

AFA launched its petition on Wednesday, urging Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to reinstate Bohannon. It had garnered more than 28,000 signatures by the time of this article’s publication.

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“I urge you to restore and protect Colonel Leland Bohannon’s constitutional right to freely exercise his religious beliefs by reversing the complaint against him and by removing any unfavorable remarks from his record related to this complaint,” the petition to Wilson reads.

Related: The Supreme Court Case Set to Test Religious Liberty in the U.S.

The suspended colonel also received the support of eight GOP U.S. senators, who penned a letter to Wilson urging her to rectify the situation and reinstate Bohannon, Fox News reported. Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), James Inhofe (Okla.), John Kennedy (La.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), and Ted Cruz (Texas) penned the letter.

“Col. Bohannon has suffered severely on account of the EO investigator’s mishandling of his religious liberty rights,” the senators wrote. “The Air Force owes it to him to see that justice is restored, along with his good name.”

“Col. Bohannon recognized the moral and legal dilemma this situation presented and, to his credit, sought to carve out a solution that would affirm the contribution made by the retiring officer’s same-sex partner while at the same time allowing the colonel to abide by his religious convictions,” the senators added.

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