10 MONTROSE VOICE/MAY 5, 1989
Court ruling: Military cannot bar re-enlistment of gay man
By PAMELA A. MacLEAN
for the montrose voice
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI)-A federal appeals court ruling that the Army cannot
keep a soldier it knew to be homosexual
for 14 years from re-enlisting was
praised as a victory for gay rights, but
criticized for sidestepping a larger constitutional issue.
The 7-4 decision Wednesday by the 9th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled
a landmark ruling by a three-judge panel of the same court that had struck
down the Army's ban on homosexuals
by declaring they deserved the same protection against discrimination as racial
The Army was expected to appeal the
decision to the Supreme Court. Homosexual groups seeking open admission
to the military called the ruling a "small
victory," but a dissenting judge said the
court had avoided the larger question of
whether the military has a constitutional right to bar homosexuals.
The judges ruled Sgt. Perry Watkins
was unfairly discharged because the Ar
my ignored his openly stated homosexuality for 14 years before trying to block
him from re-enlisting in 1981.
Writing for the majority, Judge Harry
Pregerson said the Army's disregard of
Watkins' avowed homosexuality for 14
years "amounted almost to a policy of ignoring this servicemember's homosexuality."
"This is a case where equity cries out
and demands that the Army be stopped
from refusing to re-enlist Watkins on the
basis of his homosexuality," the decisioji
The court said it was unnecessary to
consider the broader questions of discrimination and denial of equal protection under the Constitution.
Watkins, reached at his Tacoma,
Wash., home late Wednesday, said he
was ready to return to active duty as
soon as all the appeals in the case are
"Now we've got to wait and see what
the Army will do before we make any final decisions," Watkins said, adding
that while he was "real happy with the
ruling, I wish they had addressed the
(larger constitutional issue)."
The four justices who dissented were
largely concerned about the court's exercise of judicial review over the military
"There is no doubt that the majority's
intrusion into military affairs, unjustified by important federal interests, will
have a disruptive effect on military discipline," wrote Judge Cynthia Holcomb
Hall, who accused the majority of having a "steadfast desire" to avoid deciding the constitutional issues in the case.
Stephen Bomse, attorney for the National Gay Rights Advocates, which argued in support of Watkins, said, "I'm
pleased for Watkins, but this doesn't appear to do much to advance the resolution of very important legal questions.
"It is disappointing the court did not
take those (constitutional issues) head
on" Bomse said.
Watkins, 40, claimed he was denied
equal protection when the Army tried to
discharge him after 14 years of exemplary service purely because he is a homo-
RALPH, fl-.T MV "SIGNIFICANT UDDER"
Watkins had declared on his original
1967 draft form that he had "homosexual tendencies." Despite the disclosure he
was inducted and remained in the Army,
gaining the rank of sergeant.
The ruling ordered reinstatement of a
U.S. District Court decision Oct. 5,1982
that prevented Watkins' discharge.
Watkins, who now works for the U.S.
Forest Service in Seattle, said he believed that "if all the gay people in the
Army came out of the closet, the Army
would realize how silly their rule is.
We're talking about thousands, perhaps
hundreds of thousands of people."
Judge William Norris, in a concurring
opinion, said he would have gone further
than simply protecting an already enlisted soldier. He found the Army regulations unconstitutionally discriminated
Norris wrote the earlier and broader
appeal court ruling that was rejected in
"The Army's regulations violate the
constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws because they discriminate against persons of homosexual orientation ... because the regulations are not necessary to promote
a legitimate compelling government
interest," Norris wrote.
Leonard Graff, legal director of National Gay Rights, a public interest
law firm, said a recent General Accounting Office audit showed, in the
past 10 years, the military discharged
an average of 1400 people a year on
the basis of homosexuality.
He called the annual discharge of
homosexuals "yearly witch hunts"
that cost taxpayers $20 million a year
for investigations and retraining and
recruiting replacement soldiers.
Cats and dogs reign supreme at America's movie theaters
By VERNON SCOTT
UPI Hollywood Reporter
FOR THE MONTROSE VOICE
and "K-9" were No. 1 and No. 2 at
North America's movie theaters
for the week ending last Sunday.
Based on Stephen King's novel
of the occult, the chilling "Pet
Sematary" repeated its No. 1
standing in the box office
rankings for a second consecutive week with a gross of $8.3 million and a two-week total of $24.4
The thriller, playing on 1585
screens, weaves a tale of horror in
New England when a family is
cursed by a sect that revives the
Runnerup for the week was
newcomer "K-9," starring Jim
Belushi as a cop whose lovable
police dog partner has more personality than Rin-Tin-Tin and
In its debut week "K-9" dug up
$7.4 million in 1677 theaters,
proving that audiences like to
laugh at bumbling cops, especially when they aren't as smart as
their canine partners.
No. 3 was "Major League," the
baseball story of an improbable
season for the Cleveland Indians,
starring Tom Berenger, Charlie
Sheen and Corbin Bernsen.
"Major League" scored $4.1
million on 1615 screens for a four-
week tally of $31.2 million.
"Criminal Law," a curiously
disjointed story of a psychopathic killer and a lawyer bent on
bringing him to justice, was No.
4. The killer is played by Kevin
Bacon in a minor role with England's Gary Oldman in the role of
the American attorney.
"Criminal Law" nabbed a disappointing $2.6 million in its
opening frame at 1170 theaters.
Rounding out the top five was
"The Dream Team," a warm and
wacky story of four mental cases
on the loose in New York City,
starring Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd, Peter Boyle and
"Dream Team" posted $2.2 million for a four-week total of $19.1
million at 1365 theaters.
Worth noting was the debut of
"Scandal," the film version of
England's 1960s sex scandal involving government officials and
playgirl Christine Keeler. Opening in only 94 theaters, "Scandal" averaged an impressive
$7,007 per screen, compared to
"Pet Sematary's" $5,287 per-
"Scandal" placed 13th in the
weekly rankings with a gross of
It was a so-so week for the
23,000 North American theaters
with an overall gross of $75 million, compared to $79 million in
record-setting 1988. To date in
1989 the gross is $1,250 billion as
against $1,245 billion last year.
The top 10, the week's gross, total gross, weeks in release:
1. "Pet Sematary," $8.3 million.
$24.4 million, 2 weeks.
2. "K-9," $7.4 million, 1 week.
3. "Major League," $4.1 million,
$31.2 million, 4 weeks.
5. "The Dream Team," $2.3 million, $19.1 million, 4 weeks.
6. "Say Anything ...," $2.29 million, $12.1 million, 4 weeks.
7. "Rain Man," $1.7 million,
$158.2 million, 20 weeks.
8. "Loverboy," $1.6 million, 1
9. "Field of Dreams," $1.5 million, $2.3 million, 2 weeks.
10. "She's Out of Control," $1.3
million, $8.5 million, 3 weeks.