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Jan 29, 2013

Ashley Broadway, Voted Ft. Bragg’s 2013 Military Spouse of the Year, Admitted as “Full Member” to Spouse’s Club

Ashley Broadway, left, is pictured with her wife, Lt. Col. Heather Mack and their 2-year-old son.

Ashley Broadway, left, is pictured with her wife, Lt. Col. Heather Mack and their 2-year-old son.

Hours after lesbian Army wife Ashley Broadway was named Fort Bragg's 2013 “Spouse of the Year,” the base’s spouses club, the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses (or ABOS) — which for two months rejected Broadway's bid to join — reversed course and invited her "to become a full member.”

"After further reviewing the (club's) constitution, by-laws and internal procedures, the ABOS Board felt that in order to immediately support all military Officer spouses who are eligible for ABOS membership a more inclusive definition of spouse was 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 club's board said in a statement.

"ABOS does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, creed, or sexual orientation. ABOS would like to publicly invite Ms. Broadway to apply for full membership to ABOS. It is and always has been our mission to support all military families."

In an email to Broadway — shared with NBC News — the club said, "We would like to offer you to become a full member of ABOS."

Broadway — who is married to Army Lt. Col. Heather Mack — was initially rejected from the base’s spouses club prompted the U.S. Marine Corps to issue on Jan. 9 a pro-gay, branch-wide directive. On Jan. 16, her bid also drew Pentagon attention and support for the initial Ft. Bragg decision, and refusing to intervene on Broadway’s behalf. The club offered the a ‘special guest membership,’ the following day, “an invitation she declined and called ‘extremely demeaning.’”

Since its reversal, Broadway told NBC News that she will submit an application for full membership because, as she put it, "I need to educate some of the naysayers that are in that group and show them my family is just like their family."

Broadway was named “Spouse of the Year” in an online election by her Ft. Bragg peers held this week and is now eligible to be nominated for Army “spouse of the year.”

“The announcement that Ashley Broadway, Ft. Bragg’s ‘2013 Military Spouse of the Year,’ is now eligible for full membership in the on-base Spouses’ Club, is great news, but it illustrates how much work still needs to be done for LGBT military spouses to achieve full equality,” said Stuart Campbell, executive director of Equality NC.

“Countless spouses of gay and lesbian service members across the country are denied basic recognition and access to important benefits on a daily basis. As we have seen in Ashley’s case, the only way for this inequality to be addressed is through perseverance, hard work, and a willingness to make a public stand for what is right. This achievement is an important step along the road to full equality.”

Representatives from Equality NC plan to travel to Fayetteville next month to open a dialogue and engage residents on LGBT issues. To stay updated on the details on this latest stop on Equality NC’s 2013 “Making Our Voices County” Town Hall Tour, please sign up for our Online Action Network.

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