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U.S. Air Force officials at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas have been warned by a law firm that they need to withdraw punitive notations from an officer’s personnel file concerning his view of homosexual behavior or face legal action, because they were added on the whim of another officer.

An investigation by the military had cleared Air Force Col. Michael Madrid of a claim that he made derogatory statements about homosexuality. The complaint had been submitted by a homosexual airman who was court-martialed and found guilty of serious misconduct prompting his removal from the service.

Madrid, a decorated Air Force veteran, former Naval aviator and flight surgeon who has served America’s defense forces for 26 years, is a Christian who believes that marriage is the sacred union of a man and a woman.

But a thorough Air Force investigation found the allegations unsubstantiated, cleared Madrid of charges and closed the investigation.

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Then, however, a new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy “without any new evidence or new investigation … arbitrarily decided that Madrid had lied during the investigation and was guilty of the airman’s accusation of making derogatory comments about homosexuality,” according to a letter from First Liberty Institute to base commander Maj. Gen. Mark Brown insisting that McCoy’s “letter of admonishment” and “unfavorable information file” be removed.

The legal team explained the letter of admonishment “virtually guarantees that Madrid, who has an otherwise stellar record and who is only one promotion away from the rank of brigadier general, will never be promoted.”

They contend the Air Force discriminated against Madrid because of his religious beliefs about marriage and sexuality.

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

The organization’s demand letter explains it is “prepared to take the necessary legal action to vindicate Col. Madrid.”

The reprimands, the lawyers asserted, “violate federal law, Department of Defense, Air Force regulations, and they deprive Col. Madrid of due process.”

“These adverse and potentially career-ending punishments should be rescinded and removed from Col. Madrid’s service record.”

Among the failures: Air Force procedures were not followed, Madrid has been denied adequate access to case paperwork and he was denied due process.

McCoy, the organization charged, “was apparently dissatisfied with the CDI [commander-directed investigation], took matters into his own hands and issued the LOA based upon his own opinions … without introduction of new evidence or conducting a new investigation.”

Further, “federal law and DOD regulations protect Col. Madrid’s right to free exercise of his religious beliefs. … The U.S. Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, [federal law] and Department of Defense Directive 1300.17 protect service members’ rights of religious expression.”

Berry said Madrid “submitted to an extensive military investigation and the Air Force cleared him.”

“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,” he said.

“At First Liberty Institute, we’ve seen multiple cases in which military officials have refused to tolerate service members’ traditional religious beliefs,” Berry said. “Colonel Madrid doesn’t hide the fact that he is a devout Christian. We are concerned that Major General McCoy judged and punished Madrid – a decorated Air Force officer – because he became aware of Colonel Madrid’s traditional religious views. If so, that not only harms the military, but it is illegal.”

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

Base officials declined to respond to a WND request for comment.

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