Ending a controversy that highlighted the unequal treatment of gay spouses in the military, an officers’ spouse club at Ft. Bragg, N.C., has offered full membership to the lesbian spouse of a U.S. Army officer.
Ashley Broadway, who is married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, said she will accept the offer to join the Assn. of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Broadway said she was "overjoyed" that the group has added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause in its by-laws.
"I have further reason to take pride in the Ft. Bragg military community, knowing that we, as military spouses, are able to come together to support each other, our soldiers, and our families," Broadway said in a statement.
The spouse group rejected Broadway’s membership application in November, citing her lack of a military ID card. The cards are among many military benefits provided to opposite-sex spouses but denied to same-sex spouses, such as healthcare and housing.
Broadway has said she was rejected because she’s a lesbian. Earlier this month, she rejected an offer of "guest membership" in the spouse group. The group said she would need an ID card for full membership.
The American Military Partner Assn., which advocates for gay military families, said the group’s offer of full membership is a mark of progress in the struggle for full military benefits for same-sex spouses.
"This is an example of the direction in which our military continues to progress," Stephen Peters, the association’s president, said in a statement.
He added: "However, without immediate action from the Pentagon and the White House, same-sex military spouses are still not only at risk of exclusion from private spouse clubs, but are still excluded from other types of crucial family support and vitally needed military benefits and support services."
Ft. Bragg authorities have said the spouse group has broken no laws. The private group uses base facilities.
On Jan. 10, the Marine Corps ordered spouse groups operating on Marine bases to admit same-sex spouses or lose their right to use base facilities. An Army spokesman has said the Army has no plans to issue a similar order.
The Department of Defense has said it is reviewing its policies with an eye toward providing same-sex spouses many of the benefits enjoyed by heterosexual spouses.
As for Broadway, this week Military Spouse Magazine named her Ft. Bragg's 2013 "Military Spouse of the Year." She and Mack have two children.