Five US states have filed a brief in support of court-martialed US Marine Monifa Sterling, whose conviction, in part, included the Court’s conclusion that she was not permitted to put Bible verses on her desk. As announced by Oklahoma State Attorney General Scott Pruitt, the other states include Nevada, Arizona, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
The attorney general said it would be a sad irony if service men and women were not afforded the same liberties for which they risk their lives.
“We have filed this brief supporting Ms. Sterling’s appeal because her case could impact the religious freedom of Oklahomans serving in the military,” Pruitt said. “Oklahoma is keenly interested in the outcome of this case and its interpretation of federal law protecting religious liberty.”
Pruitt is actually echoing a prior Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who similarly encouraged US troops to exercise the rights they are serving to protect.
Also at the Stars and Stripes.
Karen Parrish of the DoD News wrote a fairly lengthy article summarizing the highlights of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s career. It’s the kind of article one expects to read at someone’s retirement, though Hagel won’t technically leave office until his successor is appointed.
Notably, a nearly 2,000-word summary of Secretary Hagel’s tenure — which spans significant developments in the DoD budget, wars, and more — begins with homosexuality:
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel led the Defense Department through fundamental changes during his tenure of almost two years.
Since being sworn in on Feb. 27, 2013, Hagel shepherded internal reforms and defended against new and rapidly evolving external threats. He welcomed same-sex couples into the ranks Read more
A few months ago Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel encouraged US troops to vote, noting
For Americans serving in uniform, voting is more than a civic responsibility. It’s about exercising the rights you’ve sworn to defend.
It’s encouraging to see senior leaders call on troops to exercise the rights they’ve promised their very lives to defend. Notably, the right to free exercise of religion is Read more
US military leaders publicized their “holiday messages” in a series of videos just before Christmas. Outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and his wife made a point of saying “Merry Christmas,” as well as including a still photo from a homosexual proposal during a homecoming ceremony.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Marty Dempsey and his family sang “Jingle Bells” and wished everyone a “Merry Christmas.”
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and her Read more
Fort Hood announced their “LGBT Pride Month” as well, though four of the five comments on the local news article seemed to question the motivation of the “celebration.” Read more
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will deliver the commencement address at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Read more
Father Ray Leonard is a civilian contract chaplain who filed a lawsuit after the US military refused to allow him to perform services during the budget crisis known as the “government shutdown” last year.
Father Leonard’s lawsuit has been dismissed as moot (PDF), essentially because the government allowed him to return to work after it re-opened.
Legally, if a defendant reverses a policy in response to a lawsuit, the courts will not (necessarily) consider the claim moot. In this case, however, the judge decided the military did not change its mind because of his lawsuit, but because the government re-opened. Paraphrased, this “mootness” exception says Read more