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North Carolina

Lesbian wife of Army officer denied membership in Ft. Bragg spouses’ club

Saturday, December 15, 2012

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — The same-sex spouse of a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel stationed at Fort Bragg has been denied membership in a base club for officers’ spouses, sparking protests and accusations from a national military spouses organization that the woman was prevented from joining only because she is a lesbian.

Ashley Broadway, who recently married her military spouse, Lt. Col. Heather Mack, said she was told by a representative from the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses that her application was rejected by the group’s president, Mary Ring, because Broadway does not have a military spouse identification card.

Ashley Broadway (left) and her spouse, Lt. Col. Heather Mack.
Family photo

But that rule was added only after Broadway asked to join the club several weeks ago, according to Babette Maxwell, Founder and Executive Director of both Military Spouse Magazine and the annual Military Spouse of the Year Awards.

Maxwell and others advocating for Broadway said they have been monitoring and chronologically noting changes in the website for the Bragg spouses club.

Under the original membership requirements — which Broadway obtained from Fort Bragg’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, where they were on file — the bylaws state that the club accepts “spouses of all commissioned and warrant officers” who are on active duty and who reside “in the Fort Bragg area” or live on base. In those bylaws, which also say the group “will not seek to deprive individuals of their civil rights,” there is no mention of a requirement that members must posses a military spouse identification card.

“I was really hurt by the denial. Living for years under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ I couldn’t be a part of the military family,” Broadway told NBC News.

“After ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ I thought, wow, I can finally be part of something, finally give back to the military community in ways other than just writing a check. So it was a blow. A real blow. Here, I thought things were progressing. I was knocked back down,” said Broadway, who also volunteers and works with military families and is the director of family affairs for the American Military Partner Association (AMPA).

On Thursday, the spouse’s club updated its website with the message that its “constitution and bylaws are currently being reviewed,” and released a statement indicating it would address the issue at a board meeting next month.

“‘Equality can wait’ has never been the answer, but that’s the message the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses is sending with its tepid and dismissive statement,” said Allyson Robinson, Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy group for LGBT service members and veterans.

“It’s certainly not the answer for Ashley Broadway or the families of gay and lesbian service members at Ft. Bragg and on military installations across the country, who like all our men and women in uniform, need support during the holiday season perhaps more than any other time of the year.”

“The group doesn’t need a meeting; Ashley clearly qualifies under its existing, approved bylaws. It simply needs to accept Ashley into its membership, and it should do so immediately,” Robinson said.

Robinson also called out the Pentagon for its nearly two-year long delay in issuing guidance on benefits and support that can be provided to same-sex military families without coming into conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“The Pentagon has dragged its feet on this issue for far too long, and it’s time for the Secretary to act. Situations like the one at Ft. Bragg could be avoided if commanders were given the guidance they need to address these issues with consistency. All it takes is the stroke of a pen,” said Robinson.

On Friday, the AMPA released a statement revealing that Fort Bragg’s commander, Col. Jeffrey Sanborn, will meet with Broadway on Dec. 20 to discuss her application.

Mack and Broadway were together 15 years before marrying in November. The couple has a 2-year-old son, and Mack is 8-months-pregnant with their second child.

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25 more reader comments:

  1. still ignorance I see,,smh

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:56pm
  2. A**holes

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:58pm
  3. That’s so not right.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:58pm
  4. Fayetville is filled with unapologetic sociopaths, I’m not surprised.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 8:58pm
  5. Hopefully the Supreme Court will put a stop to this kind bigoted shit…hopefully.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:04pm
  6. Ironic that Gay and Lesbian officers are allowed to march in their colors… but they can’t have their spouses in spouse clubs…

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:04pm
  7. So glad I’m retiring soon

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:04pm
  8. Can’t they sue? They should.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:05pm
  9. who died and made racism god?

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:07pm
  10. That being said.. I wouldn’t want to join a club full of bigots who wouldn’t accept me because of my sexuality.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:13pm
  11. It’s North Carolina, what did she expect? People like us are not welcome here.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:17pm
  12. Bunch of god-damned old Battle Axes that think their shit don’t stink. Time for a good old fashioned LAW SUIT. Sue there blue asses back to the stone age.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:19pm
  13. Still an old boys club if you are in the military you can’t sue them it sucks you give your life to service and get slapped in the face

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:30pm
  14. Just because gays can serve openly in the military doesn’t mean we are welcome, and it for damn sure doesn’t mean our families are welcome,either.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:33pm
  15. This is so sad…

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 9:34pm
  16. sue the goddamn club

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 10:17pm
  17. Sue them and their sorry asses! This clearly marriage discrimination!

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 10:31pm
  18. Oh well that makes her the BETTER Person. Most Army Officer Wives noses are so far up that they never see their feet.

    Posted on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 10:41pm
  19. illegal action in the armed forces now. ALL ARE EQUAL NOW. DEAL!

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 12:28am
  20. Unacceptable. I hope they take the group of snotty nosed women to the mat! A military spouse has to sacrifice so much, even to the point of not knowing if the other spouse will live through the assignment. They deserve our support no matter what. Period, end of story.

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 3:47am
  21. Federal Mandate.. period point blank

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 6:33am
  22. -_-

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 9:53am
  23. That’s sad, I don’t understand why the “people” in this world are so judge mental but it’s ridiculous for people to deny others of something that they desire to do or participate in! All because they are gay! I believe GOD loves us all no matter what, why else would he have created us just to be hateful and awful to one another??? I think not!!!! We are all GOD’s children regardless of our race, sex, or even sexual orientation! People should be more worried about all the hatred in the world instead of who’s who, or who someone loves! All I can say is people get over yourselves! No body is perfect except for one, and that is GOD! And I don’t care who thinks I am wrong for mentioning GOD because I am gay myself. It doesn’t bother me, if I don’t already know you it’s probably for the best because it’s hard to find good people in the world, very few and far between! We have enough hatred and violence in this world, we don’t need even more! And as for someone preaching me about how sick I am and I am going to hell, nope, nada, not going to happen only GOD can judge. Those who judge will probably be the ones to go there! They need to go back and read a few verses like um, the ten commandments if they are so religious then they should know they are wrong for judging one another when they should be looking at themselves and realize we are all here for a reason and that is to live to the fullest and best of our abilities! And it’s not just gays I am speaking for. It’s also for the children that are born with disabilities and complications, or even deformities they have FEELINGS and HEARTS TOO! They too are

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:13am
  24. GOD’s children so I say to all the people who are horrible to others you have no right to be so harsh and mean to others. God wants us to be good to one another not hurt one another! We were created equally why can’t we treat each other in the same manner????? I don’t know but when someone says the worlds going to end well I don’t believe the world will necessarily end physically but I do believe the “people” will make it hell on earth for the rest of us good people. I’m not saying I’m perfect by all means but I do have one of the biggest hearts and am one of the sweetest person you could ever come across. It’s just a shame most people that were in my life that did know me isn’t fully in my life anymore but it’s okay we grow up and change and at the same time it’s your loss! I say this for all the wonderful people in the world not just for myself. I’m not self-centered, not a mean person, not a violent person, and most certainly not a hateful person! Always tell your loved ones and friends that you love them and live life to the fullest and like it’s your last because you never know when it’s your time to go! GOD only wants us to be happy and wants the best for us all no matter what obstacles are thrown at us! Everyone have a blessed and beautiful day! GOD loves me this I know!

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:28am
  25. *I meant to say always tell your loved ones that you love them daily!

    Posted on Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:38am