Friday, July 15, 2016

Ousted Navy Chaplain Looks to High Court to Overturn 2006 Separation

Daily News

Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt talks with fellow legislator Rep. Joe Salazar on the closing day of the 2015 Colorado legislative session, at the Capitol, in Denver, Wednesday May 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)13 JUL | by Bryant Jordan

A former Navy chaplain removed from the service after disobeying an order not to wear his uniform during a protest in front of the White House 10 years ago is hoping to present his case for reinstatement to the U.S. Supreme Court when it reconvenes in the fall.

Gordon Klingenschmitt, a minister who has served as a representative for the past two years in the Colorado state legislature, said he hopes to show the high court that he did not violate a lawful order or Navy regulations with his appearance at the White House demonstration.

"Because I only said a prayer while in my uniform, and I declined to make any political speeches, and declined any interviews with the media until I changed into civilian clothes, I contend that my prayer in Jesus' name was a religious observance," Klingenschmitt said Tuesday.

In September 2006, a Navy court found then-Lt. Klingenschmitt guilty of disobeying an order by appearing in uniform at a political protest and subsequently separated him from the Navy. He said the Navy had offered to discipline him quietly with a letter of reprimand, but he insisted on a court- martial.

Klingenschmitt, through his attorneys, filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court in May. It's now up to the court to review the petition and decide whether it will hear the appeal.

He said he wants the Navy's ruling overturned and, if it is, to be returned to the chaplaincy and awarded back pay.

Klingenschmitt was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2014 but last month lost the Republican Party primary race to Bob Gardner, who previously served from 2007 to 2013 in the state legislature.

Since being separated from the Navy a decade ago, Klingenschmitt has continued to press the case that military chaplains should be allowed to use Jesus Christ's name in prayer at any time.

Additionally, his Pray In Jesus Name Project claims to have delivered five million faxed petitions to Congress in support of legislation opposing abortion, defending traditional marriage and other causes.

-- Bryant Jordan can be reached Follow him on Twitter at@BryantJordan.


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