Marines Discharge Sergeant For Facebook Posts

Sgt. Gary Stein Received 'Other Than Honorable' Discharge

A Camp Pendleton Marine was given an other than honorable discharge for saying in a Facebook comment that he would not follow all of the president's orders, the commanding general for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego said Wednesday.

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Sgt. Gary Stein, 26, was administratively separated from the Marine Corps with an "other than honorable" discharge, according to Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, who reviewed the findings of a separation board and agreed with them.

Stein, who later qualified the statement, saying he would not follow any illegal orders from the president, went to federal court to try to get a preliminary injunction to prevent his discharge. But U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff denied the request.

Stein's lawyers said the Administrative Separation Board was unfair, because it refused to allow testimony from three experts in military law who would have testified on Stein's behalf.

Huff said the military has a "process" to take care of such matters, saying the federal court would not get involved.

Stein was put on notice of a possible violation of the Uniform Code of Justice last month after he wrote on Facebook that he would not follow certain orders from the president. He later clarified the comments, saying he would not follow any unlawful orders from the commander-in-chief. He further said he believed his online activity was protected under the First Amendment.

Huff said she was troubled by Stein's posting, which read in part, "Screw Obama. I will not follow all orders from him."

The judge told one of Stein's attorneys, "You understand it's a pretty sensitive comment that he made," adding, "He can't do that."

Stein said his comment was made amid a heated political debate.

The nine-year Marine said he was never told that anything he wrote was in violation of military policy.

"I followed everything I've been told," Stein said outside court.

Looking back, he said he shouldn't have made the statements.

Stein attracted national attention when he started the Armed Forces Tea Party Facebook page in 2010.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego, Stein alleged that during the 17-month period from November 2010 through March 1, neither his commanding officer nor any other officer tried to restrict his Facebook activities.

He also argued that he was not told that his Facebook activities prejudiced order and discipline. The lawsuit claimed Stein's free speech rights were violated.

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