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Lesbian refuses spouses club ‘guest' membership

Jan. 19, 2013 - 10:59AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 19, 2013 - 10:59AM  |  
Ashley Broadway (left), the newlywed wife of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, has declined an offer of guest membership in the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses. The association decided to offer the special membership in the light of a brewing controversy over the treatment of Broadway.
Ashley Broadway (left), the newlywed wife of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, has declined an offer of guest membership in the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses. The association decided to offer the special membership in the light of a brewing controversy over the treatment of Broadway. ()
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Ashley Broadway, a lesbian Army spouse, has declined an offer of guest membership in the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses.

The association decided to offer the special membership in the light of a brewing controversy over the treatment of Broadway, who is legally married to a female Army officer.

Broadway is rejecting the offer, according to the national military spouses' organization to which she belongs.

"Ashley is not a ‘guest' military spouse. She is a military spouse, plain and simple," Stephen Peters, of the American Military Partner Association, said in a statement. "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."

In December, Broadway, the newlywed wife of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, announced she was blocked from joining the club, sparking her accusation that she was excluded because she is gay. Broadway is the volunteer director of family affairs for the American Military Partner Association.

She said she applied for membership after her wedding in November and was told in early December that she would not be permitted to join because she did not have a military ID card.

Although the club's bylaws were not changed, a new rule requiring military ID cards was posted to the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses website, according to a spokeswoman for the American Military Partner Association.

Under the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex partners are not granted a military ID.

A statement posted to The Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses website on Thursday said the club was inviting Broadway to join and said some of the reporting on the issue had been "false or misleading."

"In a continued attempt to support all military families, the ABOS Board would like to offer Ms. Broadway a special Guest Membership," the statement reads.

The organization denied it had changed its bylaws retroactively to exclude same-sex spouses, and it said the board has been reviewing its bylaws since July 2012 and continues to do so.

"Since the by-laws were written and adopted well before the repeal of ‘Don't Ask Don't Tell', the term ‘Spouse' is not defined," the statement reads.

It states an ABOS membership application does not explicitly require a valid military ID card, but some member benefits and events do.

The controversy has sparked comparisons between the Army and the Marine Corps, which requires spouses clubs to admit same-sex spouses if they wish to remain on Marine Corps bases.

The Army has said previously there are no plans to take similar action, but no update was available as of Friday, a spokesman at the Pentagon said.

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