An airman who was relieved of his duties after he told his commanding officer that he could not support gay marriage has filed a formal complaint with the military alleging he is the victim of religious discrimination.
Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, a 19-year veteran of the Air Force was punished after he disagreed with his commander when she wanted to severely reprimand an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.
“I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk told Fox News. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”
The Liberty Institute filed a formal complaint against Major Elisa Valenzuela on behalf of the Christian airman.
"Major Valenzuela asked SMSgt. Monk if he could agree with her belief that openly voicing a religious or moral opposition to same-sex marriage is discrimination," the official complaint reads. "Because of SMSgt. Monk's sincerely held religious belief, he could not agree with the major. As a direct result, Major Valenzuela immediately relieved SMSgt. Monk from his First Sergeant duties and reassigned him to a different unit."
Monk was also banned from returning to his unit's building and required special permission to retrieve his personal belongings.
Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry said the major's actions are a violation of the law.
"Your conduct constitutes unlawful discrimination," Berry wrote in a letter to the major. "According to Department of Defense Directive 1020.02, unlawful discrimination against individuals or groups based on religion is contrary to good order and discipline, counterproductive to combat readiness and mission accomplishment, and shall not be condoned."
A spokesperson for Lackland Air Force Base public affairs told Fox News Monk was not punished and that he was simply at the end of his assignment.
"They did have a disagreement, but supposedly, they agreed to disagree," the spokesperson told Fox News. "But the wing commander said there was no punishment.
Monk has served as a first sergeant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio since 2011. He recently returned from a deployment and discovered he had a new commander – an open lesbian.