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Air Force Col. Michael MadridFirst Liberty Institute

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A decorated Air Force veteran and aviator was punished because he believes marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Col. Michael Madrid served in the military for 26 years with a stellar record, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal four times for his “singularly distinctive accomplishments.” As a Lt. Colonel stationed in Wyoming, he also served fellow airmen as a mentor and friend, including one struggling young medical officer.

That medical airman was later found to have committed serious crimes, including prescribing narcotics illegally, performing duties while high, and illegally bringing a loaded weapon onto the Air Force base. The airman, who was openly gay, was court-martialed in 2014.

During the airman's court-martial, Madrid was a potential witness. In an apparent attempt to discredit Madrid's possible testimony, the airman filed a complaint against Madrid, accusing him of making derogatory comments about homosexuals.

“I believe there was an attempt to impugn my character,” Lt. Col. Madrid explained. “However, I was never called as a witness and the airman was found guilty.”

Madrid denied the accusations and cooperated with a thorough Air Force investigation. The Air Force concluded that the accusations were completely “unsubstantiated,” cleared Madrid of all charges, and the commanding officer overseeing the investigation wrote, “I consider this matter closed.”

Later, Madrid was promoted to Chief of Medical Standards at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio and eventually gained the rank of Colonel. He was one promotion from the rank of Brigadier General.

But Madrid's new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy, issued a surprise Letter of Admonishment against Madrid, ensuring he would never be promoted and could be demoted.

Without investigating further, conducting new interviews or looking at any evidence, Maj. Gen. McCoy decided that Col. Madrid's religious views that marriage is between one man and one woman constituted discrimination. McCoy also said Madrid lied in the investigation and was guilty of the gay airman's accusations.

“I feel like the full power of the Air Force is coming down on me because of my faith,” Col. Madrid shared. “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.”

“I feel like I’ve been singled out because of my faith,” Madrid told Breitbart News. “Now I’m afraid if I say anything about even being a Christian, I’ll step on a landmine that could blow up my career.”

“I hate feeling like I have to constantly look over my shoulder to see if someone is coming after me because of what I believe,” Madrid said. “We have many good service members who are people of faith and they shouldn’t have to live in fear of being punished for what they believe. I don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.”

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Last week, a legal team from First Liberty Institute took on Col. Madrid's case. The religious freedom defenders immediately sent a demand letter to the U.S. Air Force, explaining that Col. Madrid was denied due process and McCoy’s Letter of Admonishment must be rescinded.

“Colonel Madrid submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him,” First Liberty's Mike Berry explained. “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.”

Berry believes Madrid's case is just one of many instances of discrimination against Christians in the U.S. military since former President Obama got rid of the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy of President Clinton, and aggressively instituted pro-gay and pro-transgender policies in the armed forces.

“Colonel Madrid is the latest victim of the extreme political correctness that is destroying our military,” Berry said. “The military should never discriminate against a service member because of his religious beliefs.”

First Liberty encourages the public to sign a letter of support online.

“Col. Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian,” Berry said. “We are concerned that Major Gen. McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Col. Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”

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