A U.S. military veteran has filed a federal lawsuit, alleging he was forcibly retired from the for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party, and reading books written by conservative authors.
According to Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a 25-year veteran of the military and a decorated soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus, he came under criticism by his superiors for publically stating that homosexuality is a sin.
After placing a "NOBAMA" bumper sticker to his private automobile, Sommers was formally counseled and threatened with prosecution under the "Hatch Act," which, however, by law does not apply to military personnel.
Sommers was also criticized for reading books by Sean Hannity, David Limbaugh and Mark Levin, while waiting backstage until it was time for him to perform in the military's band. Other soldiers were allowed to read books by left leaning authors with no comment, the lawsuit alleges.
"I wasn't reading aloud," Sommers told Fox News commentator Todd Starnes. "I was just reading privately to myself. I was told they were frowning on that and they warned me that I should not be reading literature like that backstage because it was offensive.
Finally, Sommers came under fire for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party - in honor of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder's refusal to enforce DOMA act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today," he tweeted.
Sommer's superior officers responded angrily to the tweet.
"As a Soldier you must be cognizant of the fact that your statements can be perceived by the general public and other service members to be of a nature bordering on disrespect to the President of the United States," the document stated.
Despite having a flawless reputation prior to these events, Sommers found himself charged with non-judicial punishment and was given a sub-standard evaluation, which led to a review by the Army's Quality Management Panel (QMP). Although the evaluation was still under appeal, the QMP ordered him discharged as of July 31, 2014.
John Wells, an attorney representing Sommers, called him a "true hero" who lost his career while trying to stand up for his religious beliefs." Wells argues that the soldier was mistreated because of his belief in traditional marriage
"Those who protect our rights must be allowed to exercise them," said Wells. "Master Sergeant Sommers did nothing to interfere with good order and discipline. He was the perfect soldier."
Sommers, who was based at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C., is the recipient of an Army commendation medal and was a soloist at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford.
The U.S. Army Band Chorus, known as "Pershing's Own," violated the principles of the United States Army, Wells said.
"Congress has enacted laws to protect the free expression of religious beliefs in the armed forces," Wells said. "The Army Band broke those laws and they will be held accountable."
"I am certain that General 'Black Jack' Pershing, a true leader, is spinning in his grave at the actions taken by the organization that bears his name," he added.
If Sommers wins the case, he will be returned to active duty service immediately with full pay and benefits.