A United States Marine sergeant who has come under fire recently for critical statements he made on Facebook regarding President Obama said today the only burden on his heart at the moment is his family.
Temecula resident Gary Stein said: “I have a responsibility as a man, a dad and a husband to provide for my family. Right now I am torn between making sure my daughter has the best country possible or putting food on the table.”
Sgt. Stein was relieved of his duties earlier this week and faces possible dismissal from the Marine Corps after a slew of conservative-themed comments aimed at President Obama landed him in hot water.
“It’s been a crazy week for me. The press on this has been insane,” Stein said, noting that national news organizations have been clamoring for interviews.
“It’s been up and down emotionally. I didn’t expect it,” Stein said, adding that the Marine Corps was aware of Facebook posts as early as 2010 when an investigation cleared him of wrong-doing and allowed his posts to continue.
“I didn’t say anything different than I have from the last two years. Someone saw it and told my commander. Now, I feel like a poster boy for free speech.”
While Stein says he does not regret the content of what said, he has given a second thought to the “verbiage.”
“I think I could have used different words. We’re a Facebook generation now. I guess I thought I was in a bubble. But, being politically correct doesn’t make us smarter, it just makes people shut up,” Sgt. Stein said.
Stein, through his Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party, has made comments critical of President Obama and his policies and said that he would not follow the unlawful orders of the commander-in-chief.
An investigation is looking at whether Stein, a member of the armed forces, was prohibited from publishing the comments.
On Wednesday, Stein received letters that removed him from his duties and now restrict his access to government computers.
Stein, a nine-year Marine Corps veteran, said that he hopes that he will not be discharged.
“I’d like to be exonerated completely and just go back to work. And if (the discharge) does happen, it needs to be under honorable conditions,” Stein said, adding he only exercised his right to free speech.
“Where does it stop? What does it say to people who are thinking of joining the armed forces who are conservatives. We’re not robots,” he said.
Stein said he has received support from a team of attorneys who plan to help him fight and from California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and Rep. Duncan Hunter.
As for whether or not his Temecula friends and neighbors were aware of the media firestorm swirling among them, Stein said he wasn’t sure.
He said that the positive comments he has received have outweighed the negative and that he hopes the community he has called home for four years will offer support.
Stein said: “There have been naysayers. I have been called a racist and a bigot– that’s Liberalism 101. I’m articulating the conservative issues as best as I can.”
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.