Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson today applauded a move by the Marine Corps requiring military spouses’ organizations operating on its installations to accept same-sex spouses and urged Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to take immediate action to align the other military branches with the Marine Corps decision.
“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. 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,” said Robinson.
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.
Today, Broadway was notified in an email that Fort Bragg will allow the issuance of “Friends of Bragg” passes to same sex spouses who can show a marriage certificate from one of the states performing same sex marriages and whose military spouse sponsors them. This will allow the spouses access to Fort Bragg without going through the inspection lane. It will not, however, allow shopping privileges at the post exchange or commissary nor any other service granted to military dependents. The passes are Fort Bragg specific and will not be honored at other installations of government facilities. There is no indication that the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses will grant membership based on this “Friends” pass.
“The ‘consolation prize’ offered by Ft. Bragg’s leaders to Ashley Broadway and others does nothing to remedy the situation at hand – the ongoing discrimination by the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses – nor does it truly advance equity for gay and lesbian service members and their families. Ft. Bragg had the opportunity to lead here. Instead, its leaders delayed, equivocated, and made excuses. Now that opportunity is lost,” said Robinson.
Robinson first brought the incident to the attention of Fort Bragg leadership on December 11 following a letter publicly released by The American Military Partner Association, which Broadway sent to the spouses’ organization detailing her rejection.
“The facts here are simple: there is no legal need or justification for any spouse to be excluded from a group like this, which exists to provide support to the spouses and families of our military men and women and the communities they serve. This organization operates on Ft. Bragg with the endorsement of the Commanding General, and it is up to him to make clear that there is no room for discrimination of military families in his community. It’s time for commanders at all levels to demonstrate a real commitment to equal treatment for all military families,” said Robinson.
As a private, non-profit organization not governed by laws that apply to the federal government, there is no legal basis – such as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – that would require same-sex military spouses to be excluded from the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Robinson said there are many such organizations on bases across the U.S. and around the world where same-sex families have been included and welcomed since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in September 2011.