ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Air Force colonel said he was wrongly disciplined after refusing to sign a certificate of appreciation to the same-sex spouse of a retiring master sergeant.
Leland Bohannon, who cited his religious beliefs for not signing the document, was relieved of his command of the inspection agency at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico following his decision in May. A superior officer also sent a letter recommending against his promotion after an Equal Opportunity complaint against him was substantiated, the Albuquerque Journal reported .
The certificate is an unofficial document that’s traditionally given to the spouses of retiring military members, and it’s not legally required to be given.
The First Liberty Institute, a religious liberties group, is representing Bohannon. The group is demanding that the complaint against Bohannon be reversed and that related unfavorable materials are removed from his service record.
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After Bohannon was asked to sign the certificate, he consulted with others on the base and he filed a religious accommodation request that would excuse him from the signing. The request was returned without action six weeks later, according to an appeal letter sent to the Air Force this month by the institute.
A superior officer agreed to sign the certificate, and the master sergeant then filed the complaint, claiming that Bohannon discriminated against him due to his sexual orientation.
Mike Berry, an institute attorney, said the Air Force should have granted accommodations, and it did not provide Bohannon guidance. Berry said they will take legal action if it becomes necessary.
Air Force officials said they are aware of the issue, and it’s moving through the proper channels.
Bohannon has since been transferred to Washington, D.C.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com