The Utah Air National Guard will not rescind the reprimand of an airman who complained last year about a gay wedding at West Point Chapel that he believed violated the Defense of Marriage Act, the airman’s attorney tells Fox News.
TSgt. Layne Wilson, a 27-year veteran of the military, was formally reprimanded for an email he wrote last December to the chaplain at West Point and his six-year reenlistment contract was reduced to a one-year contract.
John Wells, an attorney representing the airman, said the military coerced his client into signing the one-year extension after they cancelled medical benefits for his wife – who is suffering from stage four breast cancer.
“It would seem to me that cancelling the medical benefits for a sick cancer victim to coerce an underling to sign an illegal contract constitutes cruelty and maltreatment under the Utah Code of Military Justice,” Wells said. “This type of action is unconscionable and I would expect the Guard to initiate an investigation surrounding the case.”
Wilson, who is a devout Christian and has religious objections to gay marriage, found himself in trouble after he wrote an email to the chaplain at West Point.
“This is wrong on so many levels,” he wrote. “If they wanted to get married in a hotel that is one thing. Our base chapels are a place of worship and this is a mockery to God and our military core values. I have proudly served 27 years and this is a slap in the face to us who have put our lives on the line for this country. I hope sir that you will take appropriate action so this does not happen again.”
Instead, the military took action against Wilson – accusing him of bringing “disgrace and discredit” upon the Air National Guard and failing to “render the proper respect to a commissioned officer.”
“You are hereby reprimanded,” read a letter from Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias. “As a noncommissioned officer you are expected to maintain a standard of professional and personal behavior that is above reproach. You have failed!”
A public affairs officer with the Utah Air National Guard told Fox News they could not comment on Layne’s case.
A June 19, 2013 memorandum from Lt. Col. Tobias to Wilson indicates his religious objections to homosexuality made him incompatible with further military service.
“We talked about his feelings about DADT and how he doesn’t agree with it,” Tobias wrote. “I then told him that maybe this is a good time for him to move on because we’ve been ordered to not have an opinion about gays in the military and we need to treat them as we would treat anyone else in the service of our country.”
Tobias then wrote that he was “not comfortable reenlisting him with his strong feelings about this matter.”
The military then rescinded Wilson’s six-year reenlistment contract and replaced it with a one-year contract. However, after his attorney objected, the military reinstated the contract.
“While the reinstatement of the six-year contract is a step in the right direction, it is not enough,” Wells said. “The Letter of Reprimand must be expunged and we need to receive assurances that there will be no reprisal.”
Wells also accused the military of spying on his client’s Facebook page and are attempting to monitor his activities.
“The data mining is of great concern,” he said. “It looks as though they are trying to trump up some potential charges. Unfortunately, I have seen this done before and the Guard’s action displays all of the attributes of a witch hunt.”
He accused the Department of Defense and the Obama Administration of trying to “purge the military of conservatives who do not agree with the liberal agenda of the left.”
“This purge includes fundamentalist Christians, Roman Catholics, Jews and political conservatives who support God and country,” Wells said. “In the same vein as the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, we will be left with a hollow military that will not be capable of properly defending this country.”
“This is not just a religious freedom issue, it is a national security issue,” he warned.
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