How many currently enlisted soldiers do you know who are openly criticizing President Barack Hussein Obama in public?
Marine Sergeant Gary E. Stein is one of them. Sgt. Stein is a recruiter based at Camp Pendleton in California. He has received glowing recommendations from his superiors. He has been a marine since July 15, 2003; five years later, he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Stein is hoping to reenlist when his current term of service expires in just under four months from now, and he has asked for his current term to be extended until June 28, 2013 (this request is currently pending.)
He is the founder of the Facebook page called the Armed Forces Tea Party, which he formed in 2010 as an expression of free speech. The page currently has more than 26,000 followers and according to its description is “in no way affiliated with the military, or United States Armed Forces.” He has spoken at several tea party events in southern California during the last two years outside of uniform.
Unfortunately, Sgt. Stein is facing dismissal from the Marines over some comments he has made about Obama recently, notably that the current occupier of the White House is “the enemy“. He also has said that he will not follow what he considers to be any “unlawful order” given by Obama. Stein believes that attempts to throw him out of the military are really about silencing his right to speak out against the president.
Subsequently, Stein has, with the help of the United States Justice Foundation, decided to sue Colonel C.S. Dowling, his commanding officer; Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the US Navy (and Dowling’s superior); The US Department of Defense; the United States Government; and Bridagier General Daniel Yoo, who has threatened Stein with dismissal. He feels that his First and Fifth amendment rights under our Constitution have been violated in the process of attempted separation from service with the Marines. Sgt. Stein insists that he did not agree to give up his right to free speech when he enlisted almost nine years ago.
According to the complaint filed on April 3rd in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Stein and his lawyers believe that “though the First Amendment may operate differently in the military and civilian contexts, the military must still respect a service member’s freedom of speech.” They also believe that the “Defendants are attempting to railroad (Stein) out of the Marine Corps, with an Other Than Honorable discharge, on extremely short notice…without due process of law” in contradiction to DOD Directive 1344.10 (which protects the US citizenship rights of all members of the armed forces.)
Over the past two years, Stein, along with three friends, used their Facebook page to voice their concerns about the direction America was going. They did not just criticize Obama; they also went after John McCain, the four remaining GOP presidential candidates, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The four were insistent that they were not commenting on issues of public policy as representatives of the US Military but instead as concerned civilians.
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