The U.S. Marine Corps has decided to discharge a sergeant for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook.
The Corps says Wednesday that Sgt. Gary Stein will be given an other-than-honorable discharge for violating Pentagon policy limiting speech of service members.
The discharge will mean he loses all benefits.
Stein told the Associated Press that he was disappointed by the decision.
"I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn't have gone this way. I'm having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career," he told The Associated Press.
Two weeks ago, Stein was denied a restraining order that would have temporarily halted his dismissal.
He had sought relief fromm U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Huff after a military board recommended his dismissal.
Judge Huff declined to intervene for Stein, saying since she is not a military expert, she cannot rule on issues of military law.
Stein started a Facebook group called "Armed Forces Tea Party" in 2010.
Since its creation, the page displayed numerous posts criticizing President Barack Obama that Stein's commanding officers called into question.
“How can some words that I wrote on Facebook outweigh my 9 years of service?” Stein asked of his potential discharge in court on April 13.
One posting brought up during a recent hearing showed President Obama's face superimposed on a jackass, the Associated Press reported.
Another document brought forward in an earlier proceeding revealed that Stein posted on a Marine meteorology and oceanographic Facebook page March 23, "As an active Marine I say, 'Screw Obama' and I will not follow orders from him."
There were at least four other times a US Attorney told Stein to tone down his "inflammatory" political comments. His lawyers say the possibility of discharge is "absurd" and "heavy handed." The lawyers say USMC is trying to "railroad a good Marine out of the Corps" for expressing his First Amendment rights.
After Stein posted objections to President Barack Obama's healthcare policy and encouraged others to go against the orders of superiors if they disagree with the actions, the U.S. Marines Corps decided to reconsider a previous decision to not take punitive action against him.
The military started monitoring Stein's Facebook group after he posted his stance against prosecuting Americans for burning the Quran in Afghanistan.
Stein’s defense team said the Marine was exercising his First Amendment rights through his Facebook page.
Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, told the Associated Press that he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will be denied.
He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.
"As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him," said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.