FORT BRAGG, N.C. – A woman who is married to a female Army officer at Fort Bragg and who was recently denied membership in its officers' spouses club said late Friday that she has been invited to become a full member.
Ashley Broadway told the Associated Press that she received the invitation from the club's board in an email Friday.
The invitation came on the same day that Broadway also learned she'd been named Fort Bragg's 2013 "Military Spouse of the Year" by Military Spouse magazine. She is married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, who gave birth this week to the couple's second child, a baby girl.
"I'm pleased, I'm happy," Broadway said by phone Friday night. "As soon as things calm down with the baby, I want to get involved. I hate that it took so long for them to come to this conclusion. But I think things happen for a reason. I'm a very devout Christian. I've had faith in God this whole time. I think if anything it's brought up a larger issue: We have two classes of service members and how they're... not treated equally."
"Looking back, it's been a blessing in disguise because people are talking... in Washington, this is being talked about," she added.
Last month, Fort Bragg received national attention when Broadway was denied membership in the officers' spouses club at the North Carolina Army post because she does not have a spouse identification badge issued by the military.
Though she and Mack have been together for 15 years, the only pass post officials would provide to Broadway named her as a caregiver to their 2 1/2-year-old son -- the same credential given to nannies.
The club announced it would allow Broadway admittance as a "guest member," but Broadway said anything less than full membership wasn't acceptable.
In an email Friday, a copy of which was provided by Broadway to AP, the board of the Association of Bragg Officers Spouses writes that "in order to immediately support all military Officer spouses who are eligible for ABOS membership a more inclusive definition of spouse is needed. Therefore, any Spouse of an active duty commissioned or warrant Officer with a valid marriage certificate from any state or district in the United States is eligible for ABOS membership."
The email continues, "We would like to offer you to become a full member of ABOS. Our next event is in February, in which we are doing a Murder Mystery event dinner. We welcome both you and LTC Mack to join us."
Broadway said she's looking forward to becoming involved in club activities.
"I'm not one to hold grudges or anything," she said. "I hope to get to know these ladies and we'll go from there -- do activities, so that we can better the lives of people here at Fort Bragg."
The couple's case is an example of how nearly a year and half after President Barack Obama and Congress ended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," same-sex couples are faced with daily reminders of the conflict inherent in serving openly as gays and lesbians under a government that still refuses to acknowledge their relationships.
Pentagon officials say they are bound by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbids the federal government from recognizing any marriage other than that between a man and a woman.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of DOMA in June, but advocacy groups say there are numerous steps the Pentagon could take now to treat struggling same-sex military couples more fairly.
Among the steps proposed by such advocacy groups as OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the American Military Partner Association are issuing military IDs to same-sex spouses, ensuring spouses have full access to on-base social programs, and letting same-sex couples qualify for military housing. Pentagon officials say the proposals are under study.