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Same-Sex Lt. Col. Spouse Experiences Discrimination

The Department of Defense General Counsel is reviewing the much publicized conflict

According to the Association of Bragg Officer Spouses website, they were founded upon four principles: Charity, Friendship, Hospitality, and Support.

Fort Bragg's social and service organization for officer's spouses has done many great things for the community, but is their decision to oust a same-sex officer's spouse wishing to apply for membership going against what they are built on?

Although the Army still considers same-sex married couples 'single' for benefits and entitlement purposes, should the group's cornerstone principles be revamped?

In Sunday's Fayetteville Observer report a well written opinion piece on the group discriminating against Ashley Broadway (see photo), a newly married Army spouse, also made national headlines last month when the conflict first arose.

Broadway might be a newlywed, but she is not new to the Army and its lifestyle. She has spent the past 15 years next to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, assistant chief of staff for the 1st Theater Sustainment Command.

Since the "don't ask, don't tell" law took effect 14 months ago, the Defense Department has kept in place policies that bar spouses of same-gender couples from having military identification cards, shopping on base, living in base housing or participating in certain family support programs.

Mack and Broadway are expecting their second child this month.

Should the Association of Bragg Officer Spouses relook their membership polices and change their core principles?

Jeffrey Long January 02, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Most definitely not! Policies and principles remain sound as they are. Why should this fine organization abet the homosexuals in their persistent quest to gain acceptance for their perverse practices in all quarters of society? Furthermore, by doing this they would also be supporting Ashley and LTC Mack--her "spouse"?-- in their ongoing violation of the federal defense of marriage act (DOMA), not to mention assisting them and this desperate movement in flouting the North Carolina Defense of Marriage Act and state amendment right here on our very soil. No, the ladies are standing by principles most of us heartily endorse and have no reason to back off a single inch!
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 02:00 PM
Thank, Jeffrey. I had not even considered the NC Defense of Marriage Act - and other states with similar legislation that also have military bases.
Nicola B January 02, 2013 at 02:29 PM
I'm hoping that all the attention this has garnered leads our installation to the realization that all spouses- no matter the rank or gender of their soldier- stand side by side and face the same challenges. I understand that fraternization rules are to be abided by in terms of those serving, but promoting an environment of superiority or exclusion among spouses is counterproductive to everything our traditional support groups stand for. I believe it's this kind of segregation that breeds the attitudes that were thrown towards Ashley Broadway when she attempted to join. I am sure there are some well intentioned people involved in ABOS, and I hope they can embrace the opportunity to end these practices. I would hope that those addressing this issue do right by the families of Fort Bragg and put an end to this embarrassment that has been heard all over the nation. Army families are better than this. We are strong. We are one.
Nicola B January 02, 2013 at 02:47 PM
And as a side note- DOMA has been declared unconstitutional by the Attorney General and cannot be defended in court so that's a moot point. I think it's also worth mentioning the repeal of DADT which makes it completely legal for gays to serve in the military without repercussions of any kind. A ban on gay marriage in NC hardly negates the validity of the issue here. The Army didn't and wouldn't have made this call- a spouses club did.
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Thanks, Nicola for the kind words. Being a spouse is tough regardless of beliefs and values, we'll see how this turns out soon.
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Thanks, Nicola. Even with DADT, there is still an issue of benefits, id cards and entitlements that are not granted to same-sex partners - how do you feel the Army can move forward with that when each state has its own policies?
Harnett Hawkdriver January 02, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Exactly true! Don't forget this is not a government organization so they can keep what ever by-laws they want and acceptance of this kind of behavior can not be shoved down their throats.
Heather Harrison January 02, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Curious about Kelly's stand on freedom of association.
Jeffrey Long January 02, 2013 at 04:48 PM
<<And as a side note- DOMA has been declared unconstitutional by the Attorney General and cannot be defended in court so that's a moot point>> Good grief! Really? Nicole, do you mean "Fast and Furious" Eric? is now the go-to guy to tell us all what is and isn't constitutional? Now that is a stretch to put it kindly. The fact that he is too biased to do his job and defend it is no reflection at all on its constitutionality, my dear. Mr. Holder of course has his hands full enough, I can understand, defending himself all the time. And, not to worry, this is no negative reflection upon any of us, nor are that many people elsewhere seriously considering this an EMBARRASSMENT.
Nicola B January 02, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Well Jeff, we are each entitled to our own opinions and I'm sure there are plenty of people that would hold each of our perspectives as absolute truths. Although, DOMA has been declared unconstitutional in federal courts multiple times, so I don't consider it a stretch at all. What is a stretch is the idea that a sanctioned club on a military installation has the right to discriminate, when they don't. It's clearly spelled out by FMWR, and whomever acted on their behalf was in clear violation of their governing regs. DOMA or NC's ban on gay marriage has nothing to do with this particular issue at all.
Angie January 02, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Fast and Furious guns were legally purchased weapons by guys who used them for bad things. Watched an interview of an ATF agent of 27yrs. He went on to say how it's only a misdemeanor for gun sellers who have "lost" paperwork on guns.
Angie January 02, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Couldn't agree more. Could have sworn that military regulates it's installations, not the state. Kinda like spice was illegal on post before it was off.
Elizabeth January 02, 2013 at 07:25 PM
I might not understand it, but why should we all care about other people's choices?
Jared Kline January 02, 2013 at 08:30 PM
The Army has, in the past, never taken it upon itself to determine whether or not two people are married. The Army has always accepted the marriage certificate from whatever state or country as the correct documentation. In the United States, marriage standards have always been state matters, not federal ones, and the Army accepted this. If this is no longer to be the case, then it requires a decision to make the Army more involved in civilian business than it has been traditionally, and that would, in my view, apply to any organisation that bases itself on the Army. For the Army to get involved in such a determination would bring the Army more into politics than we have traditionally done, and I doubt that the Army would want that. The Army traditionally does not get into political questions.
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Jared, the DODI 1000.13 governs eligibility for ID cards, and should be updated to extend IDs to same-sex spouses if that is the case.
Jared Kline January 02, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Dear Kelly, Now we are in the realm of bureaucracy. The sense, to me, is that a marriage accepted by any state or country has always been accepted by the Army. To change this would be a serious matter, and would not be an easy thing. I consider that the Army's traditional deference to the traditional authorities to recognise marriage is right, and I do not recommend to change this. To do so, would bring the Army into the world of politics, which traditionally we have avoided, and rightly so for our country. The Army is not political. Not now. Not ever. V/R Jared
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Heather - I'm all about defending common interests, but it is a private, non-profit organization not governed by laws that apply to the federal government. From what I understand, Ashley Broadway's letter to the organization is under consideration and no decision has been posted.
Kelly Twedell January 02, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Jared, I would love to think the Army and every other branch of service is apolitical, but it is simply not true. You are correct, it's not an easy 'fix', which is why a review has been ongoing since Aug. 2011 by Leon Panetta.
Elizabeth January 02, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Nicola, it's a private organization that the General can approve/disapprove and the General's wife is probably in the club. They CAN do what they want even if it is counterproductive.
Stephanie Brusig January 08, 2013 at 07:25 PM
So you think it is right to discriminate? You sound like you come from the 60's when interracial marriages were illegal. Sad, very sad. Do you honestly think someone should be denied that right that everyone else has? That is not the foundation of this country. DOMA will be defeated so get used to the idea. I don't give a crap if you don't like it but you can't deny someone rights based on your feelings.
Stephanie Brusig January 08, 2013 at 07:35 PM
@Harnett Hawk, a government orgnization is not supposed to discriminate against a group that is protected. That would be unamerican.
v22pilotswife January 08, 2013 at 07:43 PM
so sad :( just when we think officer's spouses have squelched the 1960's snobbery, something like this pops up and makes everyone look bad…again. I can't imagine how hurt this poor spouse feels and excluded. I've never been to an OSC that required an ID card check and it's just a given that a spouse is a spouse. We are suppose to support one another, not do this.
Jim Thompson January 08, 2013 at 08:41 PM
When the spouse of an officer wants to join an officer's spouse club, I would assume that the only prerequisite for membership is to be the spouse of an officer. Is there an application form that asks for race, religion, gender or sexual orientation? I assume not, because clubs like that are no longer call officer's wives clubs. And just try to deny someone admission because of race or religious affiliation. So the problem comes down to homophobia. It's shameful not to allow the spouse of an active duty service member the right to join a support group. The life of a military spouse can be very stressful. Why deny anyone who falls under the category of military spouse the support of other military spouses? Because you don't want homosexuality "shoved down their throats", as Harnett Hawk Driver says in his response? Shame on you both, Jeffrey Long and Harnett Hawk Driver. I'm sure neither of you understand the concept of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness".
Doug McArthur January 08, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Don't worry, DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this year.
mpw995 January 08, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Jeff, I really hope you are not an officer in the United States Military. Your comments are unbecoming of an officer and bring discredit to the military that I belonged to (USN and USMC) They embarrass me when I am asked if I am a veteran. I am a straight (not that t matters) married veteran who was discharged in 1986, probably when you were potty training. Let me school you on our Declaration of Independence which was written by men far greater than you: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whom I choose to spend my life with is certainly withing the scope of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"
Mike January 09, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Having spent many years in the military, (multiple tours in Iraq) and as a closeted gay man I can tell you this kind of bigoted culture is pervasive. This is a very complex issue that goes deeper than bureaucracy, local or federal law. Recruitment and military marketing efforts (highly focused, effective branding), especially in targeted population demographics based on income, education (or lack thereof), and blatant reinforcement of adolescent expressions of patriotism and masculinity pull from "population islands" which typically skew conservative & religious. Most recruits come from a background with less opportunity. Nature abhors a vacuum. Where higher education and progressive ideas are absent, religion, tradition and "traditional values" fill the gap. There are many exceptions to this point, however in general terms it remains true. The military is perhaps the last bastion of large scale direct bigotry. But there is hope. Things are changing so fast. We are moving in the right direction and this move is a juggernaut. It is highly unlikely we will see policy back track. The military culture will continue to resist, blatantly, or, in non-direct ways. But as it was with segregation, so shall it be with gay rights. As service members and their families become more exposed to their LGBT colleagues and realize there was nothing really to worry about the fear and anger will dissipate. For everyone on the right side of this issue I commend you.
keith January 10, 2013 at 08:26 PM
I would like to bring up the point that these two ladies have been together for 15 years and being prior Army the don't ask don't tell was only taken away with in the last 2 years. So the real questions is why has this LTC not lived up to the Army values and discharged years ago for disobeying Army regulations?
Jared Kline January 10, 2013 at 10:08 PM
This last comment brings to mind an OCS candidate board I sat on some years ago. As I recall, there were five sergeants appearing, one at a time, before this board. Before appearing before the board, all of them had met the requirements on paper to attend Officer Candidate School and become Army officers. The OCS board was not a sort of rubber stamp. Each of the board members asked each candidate the same questions. One question required the candidate to "give an example in which it is necessary and right for an officer to disobey or disregard rules or Army regulations." There was only one wrong answer, and the wrong answer was "never." The one sergeant who was not selected from the others who appeared before that day answered 'it is never right or necessary to disobey Army regulations." An officer cannot be a robot who just follows regulations. Judgement must be applied, and the officer himself is responsible for what comes of his judgement. An officer who would sacrifice a soldier to rules is not the sort of officer that soldiers will follow without reservation. Regulations are guides. No one is relieved of the responsibility for judgement. In this case good order and discipline do not seem to have been a problem over the years of service of the LTC in question. The sense of "don't ask, don't tell" was that private matters, kept private, should not affect the mission, good order, and discipline; and so should be kept private, and the Army respected this. I

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