Advisers urge rejection of gay Naval Academy alumni chapter

December 02, 2004|By Molly Knight | Molly Knight,SUN STAFF

The board of the U.S. Naval Academy's alumni association is scheduled to vote today on a group's bid to form a predominantly gay and lesbian alumni chapter amid reports that the association's staff has recommended rejecting the application.

The Associated Press reported last night that paid staff members of the Annapolis-based alumni association submitted an internal document to the board of trustees advising it to deny the group of mostly gay and lesbian alumni official status.

Reached last night by The Sun, Skid Heyworth, a spokesman for the alumni association, declined to disclose details of the staff recommendation. He stressed that a decision will not be made until the 29-member board votes on the application.

"We submitted an internal document to the board that it will take into consideration, but the decision is their own," Heyworth said.

This is the second time the group of gay and lesbian alumni, founded by 1989 graduate Jeff Petrie and recently renamed the Castro Chapter after a predominantly gay section of San Francisco, has applied for official recognition. A year ago, the board unanimously voted to reject the application of the group, then called USNA Out, citing the geographic disparity of its members.

Since then, Petrie said, the group has revised its bylaws to agree with the academy's existing chapters, formed a geographic base in San Francisco and welcomed two straight members into its group.

"We're just trying to form a group that is free of discrimination," Petrie said yesterday. "No matter what the board decides, I think we've achieved something in what we've done."

Despite the group's revised application, Heyworth said yesterday that the Castro Chapter is a narrowly defined group, unlike the association's 90 official chapters.

"We don't have chapters for football players or surface warfare officers," Heyworth said.

Still, Heyworth added that the board will make its decision based on a careful review of the chapter's application. If the board approves the Castro Chapter's request, the academy would become the first military college to officially recognize a group of homosexual graduates.

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