Marine Corps Requires Military Spouse Clubs To Include Same-Sex Partners
When Ashley Broadway, a military wife of 15 years, wanted to make new friends and connect with other military spouses, she applied for membership to the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Broadway lives at the Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina with her family; her wife is an Army lieutenant colonel, and the couple have one son and another child on the way. Broadway was excited about the prospect of meeting other spouses, volunteering for family events, and being part of a support group. Instead, she was denied membership because, as a same-sex spouse, she doesn’t have a military ID card (due to the Defense of Marriage Act, the military doesn’t recognize same-sex unions). But wait! This story of discrimination actually has a happy ending…
Broadway posted an open letter about the rejection on The American Military Partner Association website, and this week Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary advised Marine Corps legal staff that any group operating on a Marine base must adhere to the same standards of non-discrimination based on “race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, or national origin.” Broadway was denied membership because she is a woman married to another woman. Therefore, Ary explained, “We would interpret a spouse’s club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.” Thanks to this ruling, if a military spouses group wants to maintain its activities on base, it must accept all military husbands and wives–regardless of gender. With “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” finally repealed, gay servicemembers can live their lives out in the open, and now, thanks to Broadway’s brave letter, partners will be able to enjoy some of the camaraderie and respect they deserve.
Props to the Marines for taking one more step in the right direction.