An Army master sergeant was punished after he hosted a promotion party and served Chick-fil-A sandwiches in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act.
The unidentified soldier was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action and given a bad efficiency report, according to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“They say he is no longer a team player and was not performing up to standards,” Chaplain Alliance Executive Director Ron Crews told Fox News. “This is just one little example of a case of a soldier just wanting to express his views and now he’s been jumped on by the military.”
Army Public Affairs issued the following statement: ”With respect to the political activities, soldiers are expected to carry out their obligations as citizens in accordance with applicable regulations. The Army cannot comment on ongoing investigations or administrative actions.”
The soldier’s story was included in a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights documenting concerns about attacks on religious liberty within the Armed Services.
Last summer the soldier had received his promotion to master sergeant. The promotion coincided with a national controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A’s support of traditional marriage. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told a newspaper that he was “guilty as charged” when it came to supporting the biblical definition of marriage. Gay rights advocates were infuriated and some Democratic leaders – most notably the mayor of Boston – attempted to stop the popular restaurant chain from opening restaurants in their cities.
Crews said the soldier decided to hold a party to celebrate his new position. The invitations read, “In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party.”
After the party, the solider received a letter of reprimand. Crews said at issue was the combination of the sandwiches and the soldier’s support of DOMA (which happens to be the law of the land).
“There was initially some talk of bringing judicial punishment against him,” Crews said. “He had a letter put in his file and an investigation was initiated to see if he had violated any policy.”
The solider reached out to the Chaplain Alliance for help and they put him in touch with an attorney. Crews said nearly one year later – the soldier is still embroiled in a legal battle.
“He was at the pinnacle of his career,” Crews said. “To make that rank means you’ve done very well throughout your career. He wants to finish serving his time honorably.”
Crews said stories like this are becoming commonplace in the military post-repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
“These stories are the ones that have not been told – about some of the more subtle ramifications of the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” he said.
One service member received a severe reprimand for expressing his faith’s religious position about homosexuality in a personal religious blog.
A chaplain was relieved of his command over a military chapel because he could not allow same-sex weddings to take place in the chapel.
And a chaplain who asked senior military officers whether religious liberty would be protected in the wake of the repeal of the law against open homosexual behavior in the military was told to “get in line” or resign.
Crews said they are sharing these stories to let other service members know there is a place to get help. He said Chaplain Alliance publishes a religious liberty palm card – explaining constitutionally protected liberties to service members.
“If you believe your religious liberties have been violated, here’s what you can do,” he said. “We will see that you get the help that you need.”
As for the soldier who served the Chick-fil-A sandwiches?
“We’re going to stand with this soldier who did nothing wrong,” “There is nothing wrong in saying he wants to celebrate DOMA – which happens to be federal law.