Ashley Broadway, wife of Lt. Col. Heather Mack, has rejected a "special guest membership" offer to an officers' spouses club at Fort Bragg, N.C., after weeks of controversy surrounding the group's initial decision to reject her application.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Broadway called the offer "not only offensive, but just plain hurtful." The guest membership invitation means she would be able to attend functions but not vote as a club member.
The newlyweds are at the center of a weeks-long dispute with The Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses, or ABOS, after she claimed the group denied her entry because of her sexual orientation.
“I was really hurt by the denial. Living for years under ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ I couldn’t be a part of the military family,” Broadway, in tears, told NBC News.
“After ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,’ I thought, wow, I can finally be part of something, finally give back to the military community in ways other than just writing a check. So it was a blow. A real blow. Here, I thought things were progressing. I was knocked back down.”
Here's a copy of the group's guest membership offer (via Buzzfeed):
In an appearance on CNN, Broadway explained that while the military had repealed "Dont Ask, Don't Tell," the group told her she couldn't join the club because she didn't have an official military spouses' ID card (The Defense of Marriage Act prevents same-sex spouses from receiving federal benefits like ID cards.)
In mid-November, ABOS received an inquiry from...Ashley Broadway requesting information on the eligibility for membership in ABOS of a same sex spouse. As this was a case of first impression, she was told that such a request would need to be studied.
ABOS' by-laws were never changed retroactively in an attempt to exclude anyone. ... 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.
"It always has been and will continue to be our mission to support all military families," the group added.