SAN ANTONIO, Texas, March 29, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, First Liberty Institute, a national religious freedom law firm, sent a demand letter to the United States Air Force on behalf of its client, Colonel Michael Madrid, USAF.
First Liberty attorneys say the Air Force discriminated against Col. Madrid because of his religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality. They are asking the Air Force to rescind Madrid's punishment or face further legal action.
"Colonel Madrid is the latest victim of the extreme political correctness that is destroying our military," Mike Berry, Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, says. "The military should never discriminate against a service member because of his religious beliefs."
Col. Michael Madrid is a decorated Air Force veteran, a former Naval aviator, and a flight surgeon who has served in the military for 26 years. As a Christian, he holds the traditional belief that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman.
In 2014, an openly gay Airman was court-martialed and found guilty of serious misconduct. During the court-martial process, the Airman, who worked with Col. Madrid, accused Col. Madrid of having made derogatory comments about homosexuality.
Col. Madrid denied making such comments and submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation, where he explained that he holds traditional Christian beliefs about marriage. The Air Force found the allegations unsubstantiated, cleared Madrid of the charges, and closed the investigation. (Read more about the court-martial and investigation)
However, more than two years later, Col. Madrid was placed under a new commander, Major General John E. McCoy. Soon after, without any new evidence or new investigation, Maj. Gen. McCoy arbitrarily decided that Madrid had lied during the investigation and was guilty of the Airman's accusation of making derogatory comments about homosexuality.
As a result, Maj. Gen. McCoy placed a Letter of Admonishment in Madrid's permanent record. The letter virtually guarantees that Madrid, who has an otherwise stellar record and who is only one promotion away from the rank of Brigadier General, will never be promoted.
Today, First Liberty sent a demand letter to the United States Air Force, saying that Col. Madrid has been denied due process and demanding that the Letter of Admonishment be rescinded.
"Colonel Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him," Berry says. "Major General McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid."
First Liberty attorneys say that although Maj. Gen. McCoy never provided reasons for his actions, they are consistent with a growing trend of extreme political correctness and hostility toward traditional religion in the military.
"At First Liberty Institute, we've seen multiple cases in which military officials have refused to tolerate service members' traditional religious beliefs," Berry says. "Colonel Madrid doesn't hide the fact that he is a devout Christian. We are concerned that Major General McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Colonel Madrid's traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal."
"I feel like the full power of the Air Force is coming down on me because of my faith," Col. Madrid says. "Now, after more than a quarter century of service to this nation, I feel like I constantly have to look over my shoulder. It's incredibly intimidating."
"Religious intolerance and discrimination against anyone in the military is inexcusable," Berry says. "We ask the Air Force to take immediate action to hold Major General McCoy accountable and to provide justice and due process for Colonel Madrid."
Read more about Madrid's case at MadridCaseFacts.com
About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.
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SOURCE First Liberty Institute