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Navy Board Hears Gay Sailor’s Plea To Stay In Military

June 29, 1992

MOFFETT FIELD NAVAL AIR STATION, Calif. (AP) _ A Navy petty officer’s televised admission he is a homosexual isn’t enough to warrant his dismissal from the service, his lawyer argued Monday.

An attorney representing the Navy countered that Pentagon policy stricly prohibits homosexuality in the military.

Regulations say people can be discharged if they engage in homosexual physical contact or demonstrate a propensity to do so.

Petty Officer Keith Meinhold told ABC News in May, ″I am, in fact, gay,″ but never admitted he engaged in homosexual acts, his attorney said at an administrative board hearing.

″The (military rules) do not allow for the separation of Petty Officer Meinhold just because of his sexual orientation as a gay man,″ said Lt. Matthew Gloss, a Navy attorney assigned to defend Meinhold. ″He merely declared his status. He didn’t talk about acts or intentions,″ Gloss said.

But Lt. Janis Monk, representing the Navy before the three-member board, said regulations clearly require discharge of homosexual soldiers and sailors.

″The policy is set,″ Monk said. ″You cannot change that here today. You can just apply the rules as they are.″

Meinhold, a 30-year-old airborne instructor at Moffett Field, said he made the disclosure because he opposes the Navy’s efforts to dismiss homosexuals. He defended his right to privacy.

″I am not about to talk about any of my sexual practices,″ he said outside the hearing. ″It’s none of their business, if you ask me.″

The hearing was to continue Tuesday before the board recommends whether Meinhold should be discharged from the Navy, which he joined when he was 17 years old.

Board president Cmdr. Anthony Ruoti accepted as evidence a psychologist’s report that said some homosexuals don’t act on their feelings because of personal, social or environmental constraints.

The board didn’t accept other of the report’s observations, which included information about historical military discrimination involving women and minorities that resulted in policy changes.

The board also heard from two of Meinhold’s supervisors and two coworkers, who said Meinhold was one of the best instructors on the base and that his homosexuality shouldn’t cause his discharge.

The only evidence the Navy presented against Meinhold were statements he had signed related to the administrative hearing and a videotape of the television story in which he made his admission.