Golden Gate University Law Review


Robert A. Dalby


In Dronenburg v. Zech, the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, upheld the discharge of a Navy Petty Officer on the grounds that he had engaged in homosexual relations while a member of the service. The initial basis for the discharge was Instruction 1900.9C, promulgated by the Secretary of the Navy, which provided for the "separation" from the naval service of any member who "solicits, attempts, or engages in homosexual acts." In reaching its decision, the court held that the Navy had not violated Dronenburg's constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection of the laws. The court also concluded that the Navy's policy of discharging homosexual members was rationally related to a permissible objective and, in a larger context, that there is no constitutional right to engage in homosexual relations. The broad dicta in Dronenburg and the fact that the court disposed of the appeal on general constitutional grounds applicable in a civil context makes the opinion of the court of more than passing interest to civilians. This Note will discuss some of the implications for both servicepeople and civilians arising out of Dronenburg and its forebears.