ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – A highly-decorated Air Force colonel under scrutiny for his religious beliefs is appealing the mark on his record.
In May 2017, Kirtland Air Force Base Col. Leland Bohannon didn’t sign the certificate of appreciation for the gay spouse of a retiring master sergeant; he had a two-star general sign the certificate instead.
“This goes beyond the basic issue of disrespect. I think it’s bad for our military because it’s divisive,” ACLU New Mexico Communications Director Micah McCoy said. “It’s disappointing that in this day and age, we still see discrimination against LGBT people.”
The retiring sergeant filed an Equal Opportunity complaint alleging Bohannon “unlawfully discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation.” The EO investigator concluded the allegations were substantiated. As a result, Col. Bohannon did not receive a promotion to general, according to Bohannon’s lawyer Mike Berry. Bohannon has also transferred to Washington, D.C.
Berry said the colonel’s constitutional rights and religious liberties were violated.
“That’s preposterous to think that getting a superior certificate of appreciation signed by a general instead of a colonel is somehow in violation of the law,” Berry stated. “It seems that the Air Force is relying on an outdated policy as basically the justification for doing this- obviously something has to be fixed.”
Bohannon’s appeal claims his actions were not unlawful and the military needs more guidance when it comes to handling religious issues. The letter states Bohannon asked his command chaplain what to do and was told to ask for religious accommodation. That request was returned “without action.”
KRQE reached out to the Air Force for comment. A spokesman said: “The Air Force is aware of the issue and is working it through the proper channels.”
Berry said Bohannon just wants the mark off his record so he is able to be promoted to general.
Bohannon has received a bronze star and has flown more than 3,300 flight hours including combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.Read the full appeal here.