The Family Research Council and the American Family Association on Wednesday delivered a petition to the Pentagon demanding that the Air Force reverse punitive measures taken against Col. Leland Bohannon, effectively ending the career of the highly decorated officer.
The petition from the two fundamentalist Christian organizations was accompanied by a letter signed by a coalition of 31 religious liberty advocacy groups that also asks Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to correct Air Force policy on religious expression.
Bohannon, then-commander of the Air Force Inspection Agency at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, was removed from command after he sought a religious accommodation exempting him from having to sign a certificate of appreciation for the same-sex spouse of a retiring master sergeant under his command. Bohannon thought that it would compromise his religious convictions on marriage being between a man and a woman.
When his request for accommodation was returned undecided, Bohannon got a two-star further up the chain of command to sign the letter. The master sergeant subsequently filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Office, which the Air Force substantiated.
The superior officer who removed Bohannon from command also sent a letter to the Air Force brigadier general promotion board recommending that he not be promoted.
Bohannon appealed the discipline and lost. Bohannon, represented by First Liberty Institute, is now appealing to the Air Force Review Boards Agency to reverse the substantiated EO complaint and remove any unfavorable materials from his service record.
The petition asks Wilson to fully reverse the complaint against Bohannon and remove any indication of it from his record.
“Instead of encouraging faith, Air Force officials [are] continuing the Obama policy of punishing it,” said retired Army Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, in a news release. “But now, over 77,000 Americans have joined together in this petition to say they will not stand for service members being punished and driven out simply for living in accordance with their religious beliefs.
“We not only delivered petitions, we delivered a message ― we will not back down from defending the religious liberty of those in the military,” he continued. “The action taken against Colonel Bohannon is unacceptable, and Air Force policy must be corrected to ensure this does not happen again. In addition, the complaint against Colonel Bohannon needs to be reversed and removed from his record.”