An advocacy group has filed an official complaint with the Defense Department's Inspector General's Office to investigate a blog, christianfighterpilot.com, and potentially bring corrective action against its alleged owner, Air Force Lt. Col. Jonathan C. Dowty.
Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said his organization -- which believes the blog to be in violation of Air Force standards and the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- is seeking a full investigation after the blog published a piece insinuating incoming Air Force Academy commandant of cadets Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin may have lied to join the service.
The exchange over Goodwin, an openly gay airman and current senior military adviser to the secretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., began after Weinstein told the Colorado Springs Independent that the service should have highlighted Goodwin's sexual orientation when announcing her new appointment.
"Why are they not publicly acknowledging this groundbreaking selection of a gay, female new commandant? This question HAS to be asked. There's just total silence out there about this? Why?" Weinstein told the paper.
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Goodwin is relocating to Colorado with her wife and two children.
A week later, in a March 27 post titled, "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," christianfighterpilot.com wrote: "The policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was instated in February of 1994. Anyone who entered the military prior to that date answered a question about homosexuality during the enlistment process. Those who answered in the affirmative were refused enlistment."
Goodwin graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1993.
"How did Col Goodwin -- an open homosexual -- enter the Air Force without lying?" the blog asked.
Goodwin led the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, becoming the wing's first female commander, according to Air Force Times. Before that, she was vice commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and has flown the B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, EC-130, C-130 Hercules, and various trainer aircraft.
Lt. Col. Allen Herritage, chief spokesman for the academy, told Military.com on Monday that Goodwin was "hired solely for her superb record, which began here as a cadet, where she excelled."
"The Air Force Academy is looking forward to having Brigadier General (select) Goodwin join the team," Herritage said. "Her experience as bomber pilot and commander at the squadron, group and wing levels make[s] her an outstanding source of leadership and experience for tomorrow's lieutenants."
The MRFF and its attorney, Donald G. Rehkopf Jr. of Brenna Boyce, PLLC, on Sunday filed a formal complaint against the blog with the DoD IG's office.
"While he has the private and personal right to harbor intolerant, if not bigoted, religious views of LGBTQ servicemembers, he does not have any legal rights as an active duty officer to publicly preach his disrespectful views to an audience directed towards members of the U.S. Armed Forces," says the complaint, provided to Military.com.
Christianfighterpilot.com has a disclaimer on its site, stating, "The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military, or religious organization," but MRFF said there is reasonable cause to believe Dowty may be in violation of Article 89, Disrespect Toward a Superior Commissioned Officer; Article 92, Failure to Obey Order or Regulation; Article 133, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and Gentleman; and Article 134, a general article that speaks to conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline within the UCMJ.
Christianfighterpilot.com responded in a post before MRFF made its formal IG complaint.
The blog said if pursued, it would be MRFF's second attempt to silence the website, but its author(s) believe the IG's office will dismiss the claim because the blog is "protected under free speech."
"Read beyond the sensationalism, hype, and hyperbole, and you'll see little more than desperate activists craving for attention -- and saying anything they can to get it," christianfighterpilot.com wrote.
Dowty does not sign his christianfighterpilot.com posts in an attempt to "hide behind a wall of anonymity," Weinstein said. However, he "has not formally or publicly denied" being the author.
The website is associated with Dowty's 2007 book, "Christian Fighter Pilot Is Not an Oxymoron." Capt. Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force Reserve chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is also cited on the blog.
The MRFF's complaint questions why the active-duty fighter pilot's chain of command has not reprimanded him already.
"In this regard, MRFF respectfully urges you to consider his history in the context of his blogpost at issue herein," the letter said. "Make no mistake, MRFF recognizes and agrees that Lt. Col. Dowty can believe whatever he believes in the name of his religion, in the Base Chapel, his house, or in the middle of a forest -- but as a commissioned officer he is not free to publicly attack, indeed falsely attack, another commissioned officer and ignore the DoD's and AF's diversity and equal opportunity programs and policies under the guise of his religion."
The DoD IG's office did not respond to Military.com by press time.
-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.