Marine Sgt. Gary Stein posted anti-Obama comments on his Facebook page
A board recommends an "other than honorable" discharge
A separation authority will make the final decision
Stein said he was entitled to his opinions and alleged a PR campaign against him
A Marine Corps board has recommended that a politically active Marine sergeant who questioned President Barack Obama’s authority be dismissed from service with an “other than honorable” discharge.
Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, who posted anti-Obama comments on his Facebook page, stands accused of violating a catch-all military justice provision against conduct endangering “good order and discipline.”
He is also accused of violating a Department of Defense policy limiting the political activities of service members. The case has raised First Amendment issues.
The recommendation for dismissal, made late Thursday after a 13-hour hearing, will now go to a separation authority headed by Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, commander of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, said Maj. Michael Armistead, the public affairs director for the installation.
It could take two to three weeks for the authority to hand down a decision, Armistead said.
If he leaves the Marines with an other than honorable discharge, Stein will be demoted. One of Stein’s lawyers, Capt. James Baehr, said Stein would also lose benefits and his uniform.
Baehr said his client was extremely disappointed.
“I don’t think any law was violated by Gary Stein,” he said.
“The reason we have this reticence in the military to get engaged in politics is that we were afraid a long time ago of military dictatorship,” Baehr said. “We are so far from that in suggesting that on a private Facebook page, you can’t say something about politics.”
Stein came under scrutiny from Marine officials after saying he would not obey Obama’s orders.
In a January 26 post to the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page, Stein called Obama a liar. Two days later, he said the president is “the ‘Domestic Enemy’ our oath speaks about.”
In a March 4 posting, he questioned Obama’s birth certificate. Another discussion on the site in March said he would refuse to obey orders given by Obama. He later clarified to say he meant illegal orders, which he has explained as orders such as sending the military to Syria without congressional approval.
“The allegations drummed up against me are no more than an agenda by the Marine Corps to use me as an example,” Stein said in a statement posted to his page.
“If I am guilty of anything it would be that I am American, a freedom loving Conservative, hell bent on defending the constitution and preserving Americas greatness.”
He noted that the opinions he expressed were his own, saying, “I have never spoken on behalf of the Marine Corps or in uniform.”
He told CNN the charges were a “PR thing.”
“They have to make some sort of stand with this,” he said.
On Friday, his Facebook page said: “Its going to be a tough day today. I know God has a plan and has paved the road ahead … it’s just not clear to me now.”
CNN’s Chelsea J. Carter and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.