Ashley Broadway has been with her spouse, an Army lieutenant colonel, for 15 years. They have a son (and will soon have an infant daughter) and have endured numerous moves and deployments. When the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy was repealed, they became legally wed. Broadway has also assisted other military families through a variety of volunteer activities, including helping deployed soldiers find temporary homes for their pets. Yet when the family moved to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the Officers’ Spouse Club (OSC) told Broadway that she did not qualify to be a member.
Broadway disagreed, and wrote to the president of the Fort Bragg Association of Officer’s Spouses, which runs the OSC. It is a private organization affiliated with the base. The Association has its own set of bylaws—which it has apparently tweaked in response to the controversy in an attempt to firm up their ability to deny Broadway membership. They added the requirement that members must have an “active ID card,” something that is currently only available to federally recognized spouses.
Although DADT is a thing of the past, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still prevents the military from extending full and equal benefits to same-sex spouses of servicemembers, as I detailed in an article for Keen News Service last year. As I understand it, however, the OSC, as a private, non-governmental organization, is not bound by DOMA.
Their reason for wanting to deny a devoted spouse and mother (not to mention pet lover), who experiences the same hardships they do as military spouses, and who has shown herself a committed member of the community of military families, is beyond me.
Colonel Jeffrey Sanborn, Garrison Commander at Fort Bragg, has agreed to meet with Broadway this Thursday to discuss the situation. Fort Bragg is home to U.S. Airborne and Special Operations forces, some of the most elite units of our military, with a long tradition of honor and service. Here’s hoping that the base does the honorable thing and demands that the OSC allow her to join.