Lesbian Wife Denied Membership to Military Spouses Group
A military spouses group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina denied membership to the wife of a female Army lieutenant colonel, and provided a possibly false reason for turning her away, BuzzFeed reports.
Ashley Broadway, wife of Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack, said she did not qualify for membership because Broadway lacked a military dependent ID card, which legally married military spouses may obtain. However the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses's bylaws were evaluated, revealing that there was no policy stating that members must have military ID at the time she applied for membership.
It was only after Broadway posted her appeal letter to the American Military Partner Association's website on Monday, and that the Association of Bragg Officer's Spouses post on its website that active military ID was required.
Broadway told BuzzFeed that she and her wife have been together for 15 years, most of which she had to avoid being open about their relationship until "don't ask, don't tell" was officially repealed last year. The couple married in November, and have one son, with another child due in January.
"I just really had it in my heart, had in my mind, that people were moving on from [discrimination]," she said. "I was so proud to finally say, 'We're married.'"
The American Military Partner Association has launched a petition asking the Bragg spouses to change their policy.
Mack told Stars and Stripes last month that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" has not provided the benefits that straight, married military personnel have access to. The repeal has "simply just prevented me from losing my job," she said. "It didn't do anything else." Even though the couple is married, Broadway still does not get many of the automatic benefits that straight spouses get like the ability to shop for groceries on base, travel costs in the case of relocation, and even insurance compensation if Mack were to be killed in the line of duty.
The disparity is due to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legal marriages between same-sex couples.
"[A heterosexual soldier] who meets someone on a Friday night and Saturday gets married would have full benefits,” Mack says. “But you have partners who have been together 15 years or more and they can’t even go on base and shop. ... That’s a quality of life issue.”