Air Force Punishes Colonel Who Refused to Affirm Gay Marriage

Attorneys say his career is likely over.

By Todd Starnes Published on October 17, 2017

The Air Force has punished a highly-decorated and respected colonel after he refused to publicly affirm the same-sex spouse of a retiring subordinate.

Col. Leland Bohannon, who was on the verge of being promoted to a one-star general, was suspended from command and orders were handed down recommending he not be promoted.

“His career is likely over and he will likely have to retire as a colonel instead of as a general,” First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry told the Todd Starnes Show.

First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s most prominent religious liberty law firms, is representing the distinguished military officer.

“This sends a clear message — if you do not have the politically correct viewpoint, you are not welcome in the military,” Berry said. “The military is no longer a place of diversity and inclusion if you are a person who holds to a traditional belief on marriage.”

Col. Bohannon has flown combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and he is the recipient of the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal.

Last May the colonel declined to sign a certificate of spouse appreciation for a retiring master sergeant’s same-sex spouse.

He was unable to do so because it would have caused him to affirm a definition of marriage contrary to his sincerely held religious beliefs.

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Col. Bohannon sought the advice of his Command Chaplain as well as the Staff Judge Advocate. He was advised to request a religious accommodation. However, that request was returned six weeks later “without action.”

So, the colonel asked the Air Force Deputy IG to sign the certificate in his place.

“He went out of his way to make sure his Airman was accommodated,” Berry told the Todd Starnes Show.

But when the master sergeant learned Col. Bohannon did not personally sign the spouse certificate, the Airman filed an Equal Opportunity complaint.

The Airman alleged the devout Christian colonel had “unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation.”

The EO investigator determined the colonel had discriminated against the gay Airman — and went on to say that “even had the accommodation been granted, Col. Bohannon would nonetheless be guilty of unlawful discrimination.”

“You have a case where a decorated officer like Col. Bohannon demonstrates integrity and character to go out of his way to accommodate one of his Airmen and the Air Force will not do the same for him,” Berry told the Todd Starnes Show.

First Liberty Institute is urging the Air Force to reverse its decision — charging the military violated their client’s Constitutional rights.


Originally published on Republished with permission.

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  • tether

    Unfortunately even our military has fallen victim to the trend of trampling on our right to free speech and religious freedom.

    • Dean Bruckner

      The Air Force was always first in line to do so, followed by the Army.

      • Kevin Carr

        I am ashamed of my branch of service, but all are still infected by the disease of Obama.

        • Dean Bruckner

          Yes, all of them are. Thank you for your service. Plenty of great patriots in the USAF!

          • Kevin Carr

            I always tell the taxpayer for giving me the opportunity, I came with a year of college and the skills of a busboy, waiter, and having worked at Burger King. I thank you.

          • Kevin Carr

            I always tell the taxpayer for giving me the opportunity, I came with a year of college and the skills of a busboy, waiter, and having worked at Burger King. I thank you.

    • Tim Pan

      This is the effect of eight years of Obama.

  • Dean Bruckner

    The U.S. Air Force officer who returned Bohannon’s religious accommodation request “without action” acted as a limp weasel and a spineless coward, and is a disgrace to the U.S. Armed Forces.

  • Gary

    Looking forward to the end of the homosexual plague. When Jesus returns, the undertakers will be busy.

    • Where are the moderators? This comment needs to be deleted right away.

      • Gary

        I’m sure you want it deleted because it is true.

      • Jeremy L

        As someone who disagrees with virtually everyone and everything on this site, let me just thank you for at least acknowledging that gleefully yearning for the death of homosexuals is wrong. Gary truly disturbs me. He isn’t simply misguided, he’s a psychopath.

    • OhSoGood

      Uh huh… sure.

  • The rules are what they are. It would be the same if Col. Bohannon refused to work with a Muslim Air Force officer because of his religious beliefs. He is free to practice his faith as he sees fit, but his personal beliefs do not give him the right to forsake his job duties.

    • BroFrank

      I am certain that the good Colonel would not object to working with a Muslim, by his side. This is a moral issue: even when I have worked with Muslims, we understand that we have different moral perspectives, and respect that difference. This is a matter of asking the Colonel to alter his moral beliefs. Scripture clearly teaches that we ought to obey God, over man, particularly in moral issues (see Acts 5:29). Jesus taught that Christians are to be the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16). In other words, Christians are instructed to be a godly INFLUENCE within the culture and personal areas of influence. When you hire a Christian, you hire the person. You cannot separate a person of honor from what she/he believes: OUR SOULS ARE NOT FOR SALE.

      • The good Colonel could have fulfilled this particular obligation without altering his moral beliefs. But if you think that signing a certificate of spouse appreciation is morally objectionable, then such certificates of spouse appreciation should simply be done away with for EVERYONE in the military, Gay or Straight. No recognition of ANY spouses, Gay or Straight.

        • BroFrank

          Of course, any rationale to avoid taking a stand, morally. Are you a Christian? Where would you draw the line, in your life, over a moral issue?

          • We are all able to take a stand on any issue we like, but if it interferes with your ability to do your job, your employer may not be as accommodating as you had hoped.

          • BroFrank

            Thanks for your interchange. (I notice that you side stepped my question about being a Christian.) Perhaps you misunderstand. Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist in what he has or owns. The issue is not having a job. It is doing what God wants us to. If the only measure of your worth is what you are paid, you are little more than a moral slave.

Jesus, ‘Thou Art Fairer Than the Children of Men’
Charles Spurgeon
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