A bisexual sailor who challenged the Pentagon's policy of banning homosexuals from active duty charged Wednesday that Navy officials have retaliated by harassing him and garnisheeing most of his pay, including his wife's monthly $700 housing allowance.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Gregg Monsma, a Persian Gulf War veteran trained as a nuclear technician, said he has endured constant harassment by Navy officers since March, when The Times reported he was elected president of a veterans' group that lobbies for gay veterans and gays in the military.
Since March, Monsma said, he has received a total of $85 in pay from the Navy. The rest of his $1,400 monthly pay is going to repay a $16,000 re-enlistment bonus for nuclear proficiency that he lost because he is no longer working on ships' nuclear reactors, Monsma said.
His commanding officer, Cmdr. Fred Mallgrave, said Monsma is currently receiving only minimum pay of about $23 per month to cover "health and comfort expenses."
After the Times article appeared in March, Monsma was pulled from his engineering job and put on mess duty, where his job is cleaning the ship's kitchen and feeding other crew members on the guided missile destroyer Berkeley. Mallgrave, who is the ship's captain, said Monsma's mess duty was a routine assignment given to most low-ranking enlisted sailors for a period of 90 days.
In March, Monsma, 23, declined to state his sexual preference. However, on Tuesday, he sent a letter to Mallgrave declaring he is bisexual and reiterating his opposition to the Defense Department's policy banning homosexuals.
"I intend to oppose the . . . ban on homosexuals serving in the military until the policy is overturned," Monsma wrote to Mallgrave.
In the letter, he accused Mallgrave of "continued harassment and blatant discrimination" against him. He expressed a desire to remain on active duty, but asked for an honorable discharge if the Navy sought to discharge him for his sexual activity.
Mallgrave denied harassing Monsma, but said he requested the Naval Investigative Service to look into the possibility that Monsma may have defrauded the Navy by drawing a housing allowance for his wife.
"As commander of this ship, I am the steward of the government's money. . . . There was a question in my mind whether he was in fact married and eligible for a married housing allowance," Mallgrave said.
The dispute between Monsma and the Navy has attracted the attention of some members of Congress. Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) today will request Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett to transfer Monsma from Mallgrave's command.
In a letter to Garrett, the legislators said the Navy "has been attempting to intimidate" Monsma, and they are concerned about the harassment and discrimination allegedly suffered by him.