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Thursday, December 30, 2004

Planet Out: Naval Academy rejects gay alumni group

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Planet Out
Naval Academy rejects gay alumni group

Fri Dec 3, 3:09 PM ET
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SUMMARY: For the second year in a row, the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association has rejected a proposal from gay and lesbian graduates to establish their own alumni chapter.


For the second year in a row, the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association has rejected a proposal from gay and lesbian graduates to establish their own alumni chapter.

The group had changed its strategy this year, repositioning itself as a geography-based group. The proposed name for the group was changed from USNA Out to the Castro Chapter, named for the gay-identified district of San Francisco, where some of the group's 68 members live.

The group also changed its bylaws to specify that heterosexual alumni are welcome.

Last year the proposal was rejected because the chapter was not organized around geography, as nearly all other alumni groups are.

The association's reason for rejecting the group this year is nearly identical to last year's, according to its statement: "The Alumni Association believes that a chapter based on a special interest or personal characteristics is unnecessary and runs counter to its traditional geographic-based organizing principle."

The organization suggested that members of the proposed group who live in the Castro, for example, could join the existing San Francisco chapter.

Jeff Petrie, a 1989 graduate of the academy who founded the chapter, said the whole point of the proposal is that openly gay graduates do not always feel comfortable attending alumni functions in existing chapters.

"It is difficult for many of us gay graduates to participate in the regular chapter meetings, because we are not welcome," he said.

"I think when they reject us today, they are making their discrimination clear," Petrie told the Associated Press on Thursday.

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