After denying membership to the lesbian wife of an army officer, the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses has extended a limp, wilted olive branch in the form of a “guest membership” to Ashley Broadway (pictured, left, with wife Lt. Col. Heather Mack).
In a letter to Broadway, ABOS President Mary Ring said the organization’s bylaws are being reviewed and in the interim they are offering her a guest membership — an offer that Broadway could refuse, according to Stephen Peters, Executive Director of the American Military Partner Association.
“Ashley is not a ‘guest’ military spouse. She is a military spouse, plain and simple,” Peters said in a statement to BuzzFeed. “So the idea that the organization, in order to end the negative attention they are getting because of their outright discrimination, wants to give her a ‘guest membership’ is not only offensive, but ridiculous. The ABOS openly admits a military ID card is not listed as a requirement, yet they continue to deny her full membership.”
The army recently supported ABOS’ decision to exclude Broadway, citing a 2008 policy that hasn’t been updated since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Ben Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg, said ABOS is “not in violation of federal discrimination laws because federal discrimination laws don’t extend to sexual orientation.”
The Marine Corps, however, took an entirely different stance last week, basically telling any organization that denies someone membership based on sexual orientation to either to shape up or ship out. The Marines claim Broadway’s exclusion was sexual discrimination as it was based on her gender.
In a statement posted to its website Thursday, the ABOS board claimed bylaws “were never changed retroactively in an attempt to exclude anyone” and that the organization’s mission “always has been and will continue to be” the support of “all military families.”