Board members with the Fort Bragg officers' spouses' club late tonight announced they are willing to issue gay spouse Ashley Broadway and others like her a "special Guest Membership" to their club after originally denying her admittance because she is not a DoD ID card holder.
"In a continued attempt to support all military families, the (Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses) Board would like to offer Ms. Broadway a special Guest Membership," the statement released late tonight said.
The original statement did not make clear whether a similar guest membership would be offered to any spouse who applies for the club. Emails requesting clarification on that point were not immediately answered.
UPDATE 1/17: OSC officials later said they will give a similar "guest membership" to any local officer spouse who who can produce a marriage certificate.
"Guest membership will be extended to anyone with a valid marriage certificate in any state married to an Active Duty Officer in the armed forces residing in the Fort Bragg area," officials told SpouseBuzz in an email.
Broadway, who was legally married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack in D.C. in November, applied for membership to the Bragg OSC shortly after her wedding. In early December she was informed that because she does not have an ID card she would not be permitted to join.
Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same sex couples are not recognized by the DoD as legally married, and therefore are not given ID cards.
At the time the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses (ABOS) president said they would review this issue at their next board meeting. But the board has yet to make a decision. According to the statement signed "The ABOS Board" their bylaws, which do not specifically deny non-IDed spouses, "continue to be under review."
The statement comes on the heals of a Defense Department decision to not require the club to accept gay members in order to continue operating on post at Bragg. Defense officials said the non-descrimination agreement by which the club must abide does not include any mention of sexual orientation. Because they are not breaking the rule, officials cannot force them to change, they said.
The Marine Corps, however, recently took a different view. Rather than abide by the department-wide policy, they issued a mandate requiring clubs to accept same-sex partners or relocate off-base. According to the story on Military.com, the Corps' Staff Judge Advocate instructed legal offices through the service to view gay-spouse exclusion as discrimination. "We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard," he wrote.
In a post here on SpouseBuzz last week I called for the DoD to update their anti-descrimination policy so that no spouses are excluded from the support we desperately want and need. I would hope the Bragg club plans to eventually do the right thing and not just allow gay spouses in a "special guest" members. Because spouses -- gay or otherwise -- aren't special guests. We're all in this big, confusing life together.
Why can't we start acting like it?