DENVER (CBS4) – A Marine from California claims he was just exercising his rights to free speech, but his comments on President Obama led to his discharge.
Sgt. Gary Stein posted the comments on Facebook. The Marine Corps didn’t buy the free speech argument. They say they don’t let anyone in the military do anything that might give off the perception that they support any political cause or party.
Stein called President Obama a coward and said he wouldn’t follow orders from him. He even touted he was a proud member of Obama’s enemy list.
“I look back on them saying, “I wish I didn’t say those statements,” Stein said.
Political activism in the military isn’t tolerated. The Marines say Stein had even been warned about his postings by superiors.
“We’re in the military and we have to follow the directives and the uniform code of the military justice, that’s about as simple as I can make it,” Maj. Michael Armistead said.
Steins lawyers say it’s a violation of his free speech.
“Sgt. Stein did nothing but engage in political speech that is protected by the First Amendment,” his lawyer said.
“The military doesn’t put up with that,” Denver lawyer David Lane told CBS4.
Lane says when people join the military they give up some First Amendment rights.
“You give up the right to dress the way you want to dress, have your hair the way you want it to be,” Lane said.
Lane says the military can do something about being insubordinate, refusing orders, or anything that threatens order in the military.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has said in a 1974 case, free speech in the military is to free speech as military music is to music. It ain’t the same,” Lane said.
Stein got what’s called an “other than honorable” discharge. With that he’ll lose most of his benefits. He can still make one final appeal, but he’ll have to wait nine months before he can do that.