Ashley Broadway, the military spouse embroiled in an ongoing discrimination controversy at Fort Bragg, was select as that base’s “Military Spouse of the Year,” following an online vote by her peers and supporters. Broadway, the same-sex spouse of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, has been denied membership in The Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses club. Broadway said that her application for membership in the spouses’ club was rejected because she does not have a military spouse identification card, but that rule was allegedly added only after Broadway asked to join the club last month.
“Today’s announcement that Ashley Broadway will represent the military spouses at Fort Bragg and be among those eligible to be named national military spouse of the year only underscores how out of touch many of our military leaders are with the communities and the nation they serve,” said Allyson Robinson, a U.S. Army Veteran and Executive Director of OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy group for LGBT service members and veterans. “It is past time for the Pentagon to catch up and honor the service and sacrifice of all military families. If Ashley’s peers can bestow this honor on her, how can the Pentagon continue to pretend her family and others like them don’t even exist, and continue to delay taking actions currently in it’s authority to treat them the same as all other military families?” said Robinson.
Last week, the spouses club offered Broadway a “guest membership” in the group while it reviews its bylaws; Broadway rejected the offer, calling it “not only offensive, but just plain hurtful.” U.S. Army officials at Fort Bragg have declined to intervene in the case, citing a 2008 policy that has not been revised since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011.
OutServe-SLDN has ramped up its pressure in recent days for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to take action on benefits and support for LGBT military families before his tenure ends. “After nearly two years of unnecessary and unexplained delay, it’s likewise time for Secretary Panetta to acknowledge and affirm the service and sacrifice of the gay and lesbian military families – who may now serve openly, but are still anything but equal – by immediately extending all benefits within his authority under existing law,” Robinson said, in a statement.