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Marine who criticized President Obama on Facebook to be discharged

Handout via Associated Press

Gary Stein, a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, learned Wednesday that he will be discharged from the military for his online comments criticizing the Obama administration.

The U.S. Marine Corps has decided to discharge a sergeant for criticizing President Barack Obama on Facebook.

The Corps said Wednesday that Sgt. Gary Stein will be given an other-than-honorable discharge for violating Pentagon policy limiting speech of service members.

The discharge means he will lose all military benefits. According to a Facebook post on the site that originally got him in trouble, the discharge was postponed. Stein's "discharge will be postponed until results of a medical condition, he was diagnosed with on Monday, are returned and treatment is discussed," the message said.

Two weeks ago, Stein was denied a restraining order that would have temporarily halted his dismissal.


He had sought relief from 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, a nine-year member of the U.S. Marines, started a Facebook group called "Armed Forces Tea Party" in 2010.

Since its creation, the page has 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 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 U.S. attorney told Stein to tone down his "inflammatory" political comments. His lawyers say the possibility of discharge is "absurd" and "heavy handed." Stein's lawyers say the Marine Corps is trying to "railroad a good Marine out of the Corps" for expressing his First Amendment rights.

After Stein posted objections to Obama's health care policy and encouraged others to go against the orders of superiors if they disagreed with the actions, the U.S. Marine 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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