With "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in the past, a Fort Bragg spouses club committed a no-no by only extending a "special guest membership" to a lesbian partner of an Army officer rather than a full membership.
The snub is the latest in a six-week saga drawing the ire of gay and lesbian activists nationwide.
The Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses (ABOS) offered Ashley Broadway an invitation to join the group as a “special guest,” but not as a full member, meaning she can attend all club functions but cannot vote on club matters, according to an email to NBC News
by the association’s board.
Broadway, who married her 15-year partner Lt. Col. Heather Mack in November, rejected the offer.
"I correlate 'guest membership' to saying, 'Heather, you can be gay and be in the military but we're not going to treat your spouse as equal.' I can be in this club but I can't have full membership? That's not acceptable," she told NBC News on Thursday.
"I'm either going to be a member or not. I applied to be a full member with a vote," she said.
The "Don’t Ask Don't Tell" policy that barred members of the military from sharing their sexual preferences was repealed in 2011.
The U.S. Marine Corps on Dec. 9 issued a branch-wide directive that same-sex spouses be allowed to participate in spouses clubs at all Marine bases in response to the flap. Pentagon officials said they support the decision.
The Bragg officers club said in an emailed statement that some information in the media about Broadway's membership application "has been false or misleading," including assertions that the board changed its bylaws after Broadway applied, according to NBC.
Broadway said Mary Ring, ABOS president, contacted her and said the application was rejected because Broadway does not have a military spouse identification card. Despite the repeal of DADT, the U.S. military does not recognize same-sex marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act and does not offer benefits — or ID cards — to same-sex spouses.
"ABOS’ by-laws were never changed retroactively in an attempt to exclude anyone," the statement said. "The ABOS board’s bi-annual review of the by-laws began in July 2012, at which time the by-laws were removed from the ABOS website and continue to be under review. 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."
In addition, the club's board told NBC that Broadway never filed a formal application, and just inquired about it, to which the club told her that they would need "time to look at the issue."
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