Marines to spouse clubs: Allow same-sex members, or you don’t operate on bases
By Ashley Fantz
(CNN) — It apparently takes more than a few good men, according to the U.S. Marine Corps. It takes all kinds of people to support military families, including same-sex spouses of service members.
CNN published a story this week about a woman married to a female lieutenant colonel at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg who believes she was rejected from an officers’ spouse club because she’s gay. Less than a day later, Maj. Gen. Vaughn Ary advised Marine Corps legal staff that such clubs conducting business on its bases must admit same-same spouses. If they do not, the clubs will be barred from meeting on any Marine Corps installation.
Ary wrote that clubs cannot discriminate against any member because of “race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, or national origin. We would interpret a spouse’s club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.”
Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Eric Flanagan, who provided a portion of the memo to CNN, said, “We 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.”
Flanagan said the Marines Corps was clarifying its policy for its members and would not have control over activities concerning Fort Bragg, which is an Army installation.
Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Jeffrey Sanborn told CNN earlier this week that he could do nothing about Ashley Broadway’s rejection by the Association of Bragg Officers’ club because the group was private. On Thursday, Bragg spokesman Ben Abel told CNN that Sanborn has not received any guidance from Army lawyers that would change what the garrison commander said previously.
Broadway told CNN she was happy about the statement the Marines gave, but said more could be done. She said that the spouse club at Bragg has not reached out to her.
“I hope that the Pentagon and Secretary of Defense will take some action on this,” she said. “They can step in and change some policies too so this wouldn’t be a problem for any service member, no matter their branch.”
The Defense Department has said that it must follow federal law set forth in the Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 1996 that denies many benefits to same-sex spouses. The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed in 2011, allowing members who are gay and lesbian to be open about their sexuality without facing legal rebuke.
This week, Broadway was named one of several nominees to be Military Spouse of the Year 2013. Tens of thousands of military personnel will vote on the nominees.
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