The Pentagon announce Tuesday that it will allow military spouses clubs to continue functioning on bases even if they discriminate against same-sex spouses, according to BuzzFeed. The club at Fort Bragg arbitrarily changed its rules last month to prevent a same-sex spouse, Ashley Broadway, from joining, even though nothing in the club’s policies should have excluded her. Spouses clubs operate as private organizations, and thus are not bound to the Defense of Marriage Act, but Army officials have obfuscated responsibility for allowing the groups to discriminate by pointing out that the military’s nondiscrimination policy does not protect sexual orientation.
As BuzzFeed points out, the applicable instruction that dictates nondiscrimination expectations for private organizations has not been revised since 2008, years before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Rather than hide behind this technicality, the Marines took the bold step last week of requiring spouses clubs on their bases not to discriminate against same-sex spouses, pointing out that it constitutes discrimination based on sex. Unfortunately, this does not help Broadway, because the Army refuses to offer the same protections.
OutServe-SLDN’s Allyson Robinson holds Lt. Gen. Dabiel B Allyn, Commanding General of Fort Bragg, responsible for allowing the discrimination:
ROBINSON: This response sounds like a very defensive final answer on the matter from General Allyn and from his command. As a private organization, the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses is free to discriminate, but what Gen. Allyn, I think, would like for us to forget is that he doesn’t have to provide support or dedicate resources to an organization that blatantly discriminates against certain families in his command. The responsibility here is still his.
He is doubling down on anti-gay discrimination in his community on the very day that the likely next secretary of defense has pledged himself, historically, to using all of his authority to give out as equitable a situation for gay and lesbian military families as he possibly can under law. I think that what we’re seeing at Fort Bragg highlights the need for leadership from the Pentagon to bring some consistency across the U.S. Armed Forces.
An easy solution to this issue would be for the spouses clubs to just not discriminate. Instead, they have effectively demonstrated the ongoing mistreatment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers in the wake of DADT — not just by discriminating themselves, but by encouraging military leadership to condone that discrimination.