Marine Sgt. Gary Stein has been discharged from the Corps after criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook.
The U.S. Marine Corps announced Wednesday that Stein's will be an other-than-honorable discharge. Stein, who has served for nine years, will now lose all of his military benefits.
A military board first recommended Stein's dismissal after a hearing on April 5. Stein had already come under fire for posting several messages on the public website of a Facebook group he started for the Armed Forces Tea Party. These include satirical photos, such as a picture of Obama's face pasted onto the head of a jackass, as well as statements detailing Stein's antipathy toward his commander-in-chief.
As an active Marine I say, 'Screw Obama' and I will not follow orders from him, posted Stein on March 23.
When he was called to attend the April 5 hearing at Camp Pendleton in California, Stein was defensive yet nervous.
Today my nine-year career with the Marine Corps will be on the line for a statement of nearly two dozen words. My heart is heavy this morning as I tie up my boots and start my hour drive to Camp Pendleton, he wrote in a note on Facebook.
Stein had attempted to delay the hearing by appealing to U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff, but his efforts were unsuccessful. His dismissal was unanimously recommended by the military board at Camp Pendleton. Weeks later, on April 25, Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo agreed with the ruling and officially called for the Marine's dismissal.
Stein hasn't given up yet; his lawyers say they will make an appeal to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the military ruling violates the defendant's First Amendment rights. But prosecutors have pointed out that service members operate under a different set of guidelines; Pentagon policies have been limiting free speech for members of the military since the Civil War.
Stein maintains that he was careful to follow military rules to the best of his ability, and that the punishment imposed upon him is too extreme for his offense.
It hurts me to know that I could be punished for the one of the constitutional rights I have given the last nine years of my life to protect, he said in his note on April 5. 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 today.