It seems, according to the Fort Bragg Officers’ Club not just anyone can join. In today’s world where race, sex and sexual identity should not be an issue, the club has made it one. Ashley Broadway, an Officer wife, applied for membership into the club. She was denied. The reason? It seems that it is because she does not have a husband but rather a wife.
Ashley Broadway has been a partner with Lt. Col. Heather Mack for over fifteen years. When the military repealed its’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ruling last year, the couple officially married. This repeal allowed the couple to openly live in the military community, without fear of rejection.
Broadway has been an active volunteer for years prior to applying for membership to the club. She has assisted spouses in all aspects of the military life; relocation, schools, deployments and finding housing. She has worked with the Humane Society to help deployed single soldiers find temporary homes for their pets. She has stood beside her wife during multiple deployments and promotions. They have two children together.
She was attracted to the Officers’ Club for their fund raising and volunteer work within the Fort Bragg military community. Broadway seemed to be a perfect fit for the club with her tireless volunteer hours and military spouse experience.
When Broadway applied to the club, she was told she was denied due to the bylaws. She requested a copy of the bylaws from club but did not receive a copy. She had to receive a copy from the base’s Moral, Welfare and Recreation office weeks later.
Shortly after the denial of membership, the club disconnected their phone numbers. Their website locked their links and required passwords to view. The club informed news outlets that they would review the application again, after the “busy holiday season”.
During this time the club quickly voted and changed their bylaws. The new addition? That all wives joining the club needed to have a valid military I.D. This means Broadway could rightfully be denied membership.
Opponents pointed out that the club has members who are fiancées or girlfriends, women who do not have a military I.D. but are still allowed to join. These military I.D.s are given to spouses of military members.
While the military repealed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” act, allowing military members to serve openly; the Department of Defense Marriage Act still remained in effect. This act defines a marriage in the military between a man and a woman. This means a gay spouse does not receive the same benefits as a straight spouse. Such benefits are medical, right to post housing and proper identification. Broadway does not have a valid military I.D. because of this act.
Broadway’s story quickly went viral, posts were passed around Facebook and Twitter. Military Spouse Magazine, a magazine devoted to all branches of the military and their spouses, quickly sided with Broadway and demanded that officials investigate the club’s policies. News outlets quickly picked up the story across the globe.
Almost two months after Broadway was denied membership, she announced to the Associated Press that she finally received an invitation for full membership. The club announced that in order to support all spouses, they would consider membership if the spouse has a valid marriage certificate. They did away with the bylaw that a potential member needed a valid military I.D. to join.
Broadway has no hard feelings, no grudges and looks forward to working with club. She believes this publicity will help with the ruling this summer by the Supreme Court. The court will decide if the Department of Defense Marriage Act needs to be repealed. If so, it will allow spouses like Broadway to gain full benefits.