SAN ANTONIO An Air Force veteran, Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk is in a fight for his career over a perceived objection to homosexuality. The Lackland Air Force base first sergeant was told by his commanding officer to clear out his office on Aug. 9 after disagreeing with her wanting to punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.
The point of contention reportedly is not about anything Monk said, but what he refused to say.
"It's all because he didn't say anything wrong. He thought it," said Steven Branson, pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio where Monk, his wife and their three teenage sons.
Branson said he has been in touch with Monk since the sergeant told him Aug. 11 of the untenable situation. The pastor said Monk feels abandoned by the institution he has served for 19 years. Deployed as a medic, Monk devoted himself to saving the lives of his fellow service men and women, according to his pastor.
"Now I'm in trouble," Monk told Branson, "and everybody's leaving me behind."
At issue is Monk's refusal to reveal his personal views regarding homosexual marriage to his commanding officer. According to a Fox News report, the commander, a lesbian, asked Monk to report on disciplinary proceedings for an Air Force instructor under investigation for making objectionable comments about homosexual marriage during a training session.
According to Fox News, Monk interviewed the instructor and determined his comments were not intentionally provocative. But some trainees complained. Monk suggested that his commander use the incident as a learning tool about tolerance and diversity, but to no avail.
"Her very first reaction was to say, 'We need to lop off the head of this guy.' The commander took the position that his speech was discrimination," Monk reportedly recounted.
Branson said the commander began to press Monk about his views on the issue.
Fox reported, "She said, 'Sgt. Monk, I need to know if you can, as my first sergeant, if you can see discrimination if somebody says that they don't agree with homosexual marriage.'"
Having witnessed the commander's ire regarding the instructor, Monk declined to answer. He also understood Air Force policy demands silence from homosexual detractors.
"She got angrier and angrier with him," Branson said. "So he got fired for something she thinks he believes."
The action will be a mark on an otherwise spotless record. Branson called Monk "pure military" a real "do-it-by-the-book" serviceman who also happens to be a strong Christian.
It is because of his faith and the lesson he wants to teach his sons that compels him to take action. As Monk told his pastor, "I'm going to teach my boys they can't run from everything."
The Liberty Institute in Plano, Texas, has agreed to represent Monk should the need for legal counsel become necessary.
Monk told Fox News that his family is looking to him to know how to handle this situation understanding the severe penalties he could face.
More importantly, Monk hopes his young sons will see "a man who stand upright and stands for integrity."