Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk almost didn’t make it to retirement, when his lesbian commanding officer relieved him of duty because he refused her order to declare that Americans who believe in traditional marriage unfairly discriminate against homosexuals, as Breitbart News first reported in 2013. But as America honors our nation’s veterans today, the Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson says that Monk’s story is a lie.
Breibart News Network Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon—who is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy—interviewed Monk today on Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM Patriot channel 125, as part of Breitbart’s Veterans Day show honoring those who served in uniform. Sergeant Monk is an evangelical Christian who recounted his story to Bannon on the air.
As previously reported, Sergeant Monk returned from an overseas deployment to a new commanding officer, Elisa Valenzuela, who was openly homosexual and introduced her lesbian partner to Monk’s unit. In a conversation with Monk, Valenzuela “objected to one particular chaplain [at the base] that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” Monk says. He recalls that she added, “I don’t know what kind of people actually believe that kind of crap.”
Later Valenzuela seemed to realize that Monk was an observant Christian with a biblical view of marriage and sexuality. She informed him that it was now military policy to support homosexual marriage, and told him that all service members were required to do so.
She then ordered him to verbally affirm that he agreed with her that people who disagree with gay marriage are discriminating against homosexuals. He refused to make that declaration, since it would violate his sincerely held Christian beliefs. She responding by relieving him of duty, and he was barred from returning to the facility when she was present.
Monk contacted Liberty Institute—the largest law firm in the United States exclusively dedicated to protecting religious liberty—which filed a formal complaint and pursued it up the chain of command. (Full disclosure: This author is the legal editor with Breitbart News, but also works with Liberty Institute, litigating First Amendment religious-liberty cases with that law firm.) Liberty Institute created a hotline for service members whose religious liberty rights are being violated, at 1-800-259-9109, and receives reports of religious-liberty violations in the military at its website www.libertyinstitute.org.
Liberty Institute succeeded. Monk was exonerated and his record was cleared. Although the military never officially sided with Monk over his commander—who is still on active duty—Monk was subsequently decorated with the Meritorious Service Medal, including the citation that the “singularly distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Monk reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.” He then reached 20 years of active duty and honorably retired as a decorated veteran.
Despite still serving in uniform, Lt. Col. Valenzeula has recently taken to social media to attack Monk, as Breitbart News’s Michael P. Leahy reported. Leahy’s report also thoroughly explores the facts of Monk’s case.
Now the Daily Beast has joined the crusade to discredit Christians who hold to a biblical view of marriage, including those who serve in the military. Just this week as America honors its veterans, Daily Beast author Jay Michaelson cited the rabidly anti-Christian Media Matters to falsely claim that Monk made a “bogus claim,” slamming as a lie that he “was discharged for stating his religious views,” presuming to know that instead “he was at the end of his term” of service.
The record proves that Monk told the truth.
This kind of shameless lying is widely tolerated on the Far Left, often accompanied by inexcusable failure to properly fact-check stories. For example, Jay Michaelson condemns Liberty Institute for representing Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis. In fact, Liberty Institute never represented Ms. Davis at any time. The Daily Beast subsequently issued a one-sentence correction admitting that Michaelson was wrong, but not expressing any regret for their error or their defamatory assertion that the law firm and its clients are lying.
Yet another error is Michaelson’s referring to Monk as a soldier. Monk served in the U.S. Air Force, not the U.S. Army, and therefore is an airman, not a soldier. At least those mistakes are merely instances of sloppiness and incompetence, not malice.
In contrast to the Daily Beast’s defamation of America’s veterans and the lawyers who defend them, Breitbart News celebrated those veterans today by providing a platform for America’s veterans to tell their stories.
Today on Breitbart News Daily, Monk briefly related his story, then added an exchange he recently had with one of his brothers-in-arms who is still serving and just returned from the Middle East. According to Monk, his friend observed:
We’ve been fighting in the Middle East for well over twelve years now, and we’re fighting for the freedoms of our nation. That’s what we’re doing over there… But as I look around here in America it sure seems like the real war for religious freedom has been happening here at home.
“His point was that it seems here in America we’re just giving away our freedoms,” Monk explained. When Bannon asked him to expand on that, Monk elaborated, “Right now in America … if a commander takes a podium and says, ‘I’m gay,’ they’ll be applauded, but if a commander says something that remotely sounds like ‘I’m a Christian,’ he’ll be investigated.”
While those who sacrifice in uniform are protecting freedom overseas, their own freedom is under attack. And some of the attack dogs are journalists working for left-wing media outlets. Veterans Day should remind us all that America’s veterans deserve better.
Breitbart News legal editor Ken Klukowski is also senior counsel and director of strategic affairs for Liberty Institute, the largest law firm in the United States exclusively dedicated to protecting religious liberty. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski and follow Liberty Institute @1stLiberty.