Marines Order Spouses’ Clubs To Include LGBT Families Or Get Off Base

marinesThe Marine Corps is requiring spouses’ clubs operating on its installations to admit same-sex spouses if they want to remain on its bases.

According to a statement from OutServe, an advocacy group for active LGBT servicemembers:

The orders issued today are the latest reaction to a month-long controversy surrounding the exclusion of Ashley Broadway, a military spouse at Fort Bragg, NC, from the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. In December, the group refused membership to Broadway, alleging that her lack of a military ID card made her ineligible. Broadway, a same-sex spouse, is not permitted to receive a military ID card under current Pentagon regulations. The Marine Corps action goes significantly further than anything Ft. Bragg or the Army has done to correct these issues.

A memo from the Corps’ legal advisory obtained by The Associated Press cautioned, “We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard.”

Noting that spouses’ clubs and other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy, the memo stated that the Fort Bragg club’s decision to bar Broadway was sexual discrimination as “the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.”

“The Marine Corps guidance issued today is a breakthrough and a clear indication that General Amos meant what he said when he promised Marines would lead the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’,” said OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson. “Secretary Panetta should use his authority immediately to bring consistency across the services with regard to this issue and in doing so, a greater measure of equity to gay and lesbian service members and their families.”

Capt. Eric Flanagan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the Marines cannot directly control the actions of independent organizations such as spouses’ clubs, but nevertheless “expect that all who are interested in supporting Marine Corps Family Readiness would be welcome to participate and will be treated with dignity and respect.”