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Fort Bragg club wants board to review whether to admit same-sex spouse

WASHINGTON – The officers’ spouses club at Fort Bragg, N.C., is asking for more time to determine whether to allow Ashley Broadway to join.

Broadway, who is legally married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, recently contacted the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses in hopes of joining. She said she was told she could not join because she does not have a military dependent ID card.

Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Defense Department does not recognize same-sex marriages and does not offer benefits or dependent IDs to same-sex spouses. The social group is not an official military organization.

On Thursday, the spouse group posted an unsigned statement on its website touting the group’s accomplishments – including the two fundraisers it hosted this month, a craft fair and a tour of homes – and asking for patience until the board’s next meeting. The date of that meeting is not included.

“This will be our first opportunity for our board to discuss the issue since it has been brought to our attention,” the statement reads. “We intend to review the request in a timely manner. As an all-volunteer board during this busy holiday season, we request your patience in allowing us to properly address and review this membership issue while fulfilling our obligations to our current membership as well as to our families.”

Broadway said she was extremely disappointed by the statement, which never mentions her by name.

“I just get a sense that they’re not taking this very seriously,” she said.

The statement notes the group’s mission of “charity, friendship, hospitality and support” and says the purpose of the group is to “develop and foster a spirited community of responsibility at Fort Bragg.”

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For Broadway, those words are a slap in the face.

“I am well aware of all of the wonderful things that they do. That’s why I wanted to join in the first place,” she said.

Allyson Robinson, executive director of OutServe-SLDN, called on the club to address the issue immediately.

“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,” Robinson said. “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.”

The spouse group has removed its bylaws from its website, but a copy of the bylaws provided by OutServe-SLDN does not mention any ID card requirement for membership. Broadway said the group added the requirement to its website after it rejected her membership request.

jhlad@stripes.osd.mil
Twitter: @jhlad

 

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