News (USA)

Fort Bragg officers’ spouses club offers lesbian spouse ‘guest membership’

Fort Bragg officers’ spouses club offers lesbian spouse ‘guest membership’

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — An Army officers’ spouses club at Fort Bragg, N.C., under fire for denying membership to the lesbian wife of an Army officer, has offered the spouse a “guest membership” in the group while it reviews its bylaws.

The Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses offered the “guest membership” on Thursday to Ashley Broadway, the same-sex spouse of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, who is stationed at Fort Bragg.

Broadway said that her application for membership in the spouses’ club was rejected by the group’s president, Mary Ring, because Broadway does not have a military spouse identification card. But that rule was allegedly added only after Broadway asked to join the club last month.

In a letter Thursday, Ring told Broadway that the guest membership was being extended “while our bylaws are being reviewed.”

Army veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson on Friday called Ring’s offer “second class status.”

“This is an irrational and half-hearted solution to a very real problem and this latest statement only proves that the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses will do anything to take the spotlight off their discriminatory behavior – that is, anything but the right thing,” said Robinson.

“Ashley Broadway and other gay and lesbian military families don’t make ‘second class’ sacrifices to support their service members and our country. They deserve better than ‘second class’ status,” said Robinson.

Stephen Peters, executive director of the American Military Partner Association, called the offer “offensive.”

On Friday afternoon, the Los Angeles Times reported that Broadway has rejected the offer, calling it “not only offensive, but just plain hurtful:”

“My wife wears the same uniform as the spouses of (the club) and she’s just as prepared to give her life for our country. I wake up each and every day to the reality that I’m not equal, that my 15 years of love and faithfulness to my wife and country does not mean I’ll receive support as a military spouse.”

The offer comes just days after Pentagon officials late Tuesday supported a decision by Army leaders at Fort Bragg not to intervene in the case, citing a 2008 policy that has not been revised since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011, reported BuzzFeed.

The reason cited by an Army spokesman at Fort Bragg: “Federal discrimination laws don’t extend to sexual orientation.”

On Friday, Robinson renewed calls on the Pentagon to intervene, issue clear guidance, and extend family recognition, support, and benefits to gay and lesbian service members to the extent possible under current law.

“There is no reason that Ashley and others like her cannot be full members of organizations like this. The Marines have made that clear. Unfortunately, other military leaders at the Pentagon have largely refused to acknowledge the sacrifices made by gay and lesbian military families – sacrifices that are all the greater because they make them without the same level of support from their leaders and communities that opposite sex spouses take for granted every day,” she said.

“The Ft. Bragg community ought to be ashamed of ABOS’s stubborn refusal to open their doors fully to all families. America ought to be ashamed of the Pentagon’s stubborn refusal to do anything about it,” she said.

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