Marine Sgt. Gary Stein at the federal court building in San Diego on Apr. 13, 2012. Source: "Marine to Be Discharged for Obama Post on Facebook," www.katu.com, Apr. 26, 2012
After making negative comments about President Obama on social networking sites, Marine Sergeant Gary Stein has received an "other-than-honorable" discharge from the Marine Corps that he served in for nine years.
On March 21, the 26-year old co-founder of the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page was notified that he would face an administration separation hearing for posting Facebook comments such as "Screw Obama. I will not follow all orders from him," and for repeatedly calling Obama the "enemy."
According to the notification from the Marine Corps, Stein "allegedly created, administered, and provided content to a Facebook page, as well as other online media sources, in violation of DOD [Department of Defense] Directive 1344.10." This directive limits members of the Armed Forces from engaging in political activities that "imply or appear to imply official sponsorship."
Stein addressed his anti-Obama remarks on Apr. 5 by writing on Facebook, "While I could have better chosen my words when making the comments in question, I feel that they do not warrant the punishment that could be handed down… It is my duty as a Marine and a American to uphold the Constitution and the values of our Founding Fathers."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of San Diego & Imperial Counties and the United States Justice Foundation filed a lawsuit to halt Stein's separation hearing. David Loy, Legal Director for ACLU San Diego & Imperial Counties, said in a statement that "Sergeant Stein didn’t say anything for which the Marine Corps has any right to punish him… Indeed, the Corps is threatening loyalty and morale by persecuting a good Marine for exercising his free speech rights."
Tom Umberg, a former Army Colonel and Military Prosecutor, told the Associated Press that the Marine Corps gave Stein "the opportunity to think about his actions, yet Sgt. Stein continued to undermine the chain of command... I think his purpose was to leave the Marine Corps in a dramatic fashion in order to begin a career in talk radio or what have you."
On Apr. 25, the Marine Corps upheld the unanimous decision made by the separation board to give Stein an "other-than-honorable" discharge. This action prevents Stein from receiving benefits for his military service.
Stein referenced his discharge on May 2 by posting on his Facebook page: "After 9 years of wearing the uniform, today I was order to turn them all in... they now sit on the floor in a warehouse instead of neatly hung in my closet. Shame."
Stein’s lawyers say they will fight the Marine Corps's decision in federal court.
David Loy, "ACLU: Marine Has a Right to Criticize Obama," www.usatoday.com, Apr. 12, 2012
Tony Perry, "Marine Who Criticized Obama to be Discharged," Los Angeles Times, Apr. 26, 2012
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