An Army wife, denied full membership at a Fort Bragg spouses club because she's married to a female Army officer, was named Fort Bragg’s 2013 “spouse of the year” Friday after an annual, national vote that spanned nominees from all military branches, NBC News has learned.The vote was conducted by email, with one email address per vote. Broadway has volunteered her time with tutoring other soldiers' kids in reading assisting housing for relocated soldiers among other charitable endeavors she performs for the military community of Fort Bragg.
In the online election held Tuesday, Ashley Broadway captured the Fort Bragg vote “by a country mile,” said Babette Maxwell, founder of Military Spouse magazine and the Military Spouse of the Year award. Ballot totals were not revealed. As one of the 154 base-level winners, Broadway now is eligible to be nominated for Army “spouse of the year.”
“A lot of people who voted never me met or talked to me or knew me from Adam. I know it was a statement to the Obama Administration, to Secretary (of Defense Leon) Panetta, to Senator (Chuck) Hagel — if he is confirmed (as defense secretary) — to the Pentagon and, really, to America that, yes, she is a military spouse and she needs to be recognized,” Broadway told NBC News.
“There are things the government can do right now to make life a hell of a lot easier than what it is currently for those who are in same-sex marriages in the military,” she added. “It was a lot of people saying, ‘Enough’s enough.’ ”
Babette Maxwell says, “There was a significant amount of meaning in what they were doing when they voted for Ashley."
(Continue reading below the fold.)
I can't help thinking this is indicative to a lot of homophobia. We see that clearly a critical mass of the troops support and respect Broadway's place in the military community. But she has been denied a place of belonging and acceptance in the community by a few small-minded people who sit on the board of the spouse club and wield their power in a petty fashion. After rejecting her, the board would would not even grant Broadway an audience to let her plead her case that she would be an asset to the group.
Advocacy group OutServe/SLDN reached out to Fort Bragg's military leadership on Broadway's behalf. The base leadership has refused to take action and the matter was left unresolved.
At the beginning of January, the Marine Corps circulated a memo that spousal clubs on their bases must admit same-sex partners or face eviction. Citing fears that a similar incident might happen in their ranks, the memo said:
[T]he Fort Bragg events had "caused quite a stir" and cautioned, "We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard."Congratulations to Broadway. She tells NBC, "I never thought in a million years I would be the one to advance the cause. If that’s what it’s going to take to get attention for all the military same-sex spouses, then so be it. But I do take this (Bragg 'spouse of the year' award) very seriously. And we'll see where it goes from here."
Broadway now is eligible to be nominated for Army “spouse of the year.”
Update: to provide a sweet picture from Freedom to Marry:
“The president is absolutely focused on and aware of the need to further implement DADT [repeal], and to ensure that proper benefits are provided,” Carney said. “You know, for more details, I would point you to the Defense Department, but this is an issue the president is aware of and it has his attention.”
Hours after same-sex Army wife Ashley Broadway was named Fort Bragg's 2013 “spouse of the year,” the on-base spouses club — that has for two months rebuffed Broadway's bid to join — fully reversed course and invited her "to become a full member," according to emails sent to NBC News and Broadway.What do you say? I'm working hard to remain gracious to the spouse club, who has resisted months of lobbying, and now finding themselves in the white hot spotlight of the national media, finally see that they've been acting like indefensible morons for months on end.
It's better than never coming to that realization. I hope Ashley accepts and shows them how very wrong they were. I trust she'll demonstrate community spirit with grace and class.