Denied Membership: An Open Letter to the President of the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses

Madam President,

Earlier this month, I was delighted to find that there is an Officers’ Spouse Club (OSC) on the Ft. Bragg base. My wife and I have been together for fifteen years as partners, and with the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” are finally legally married.

I emailed a listed contact for the group and eagerly waited to hear back. When I did, I was incredibly disappointed to be told I “do not qualify.”

I respectfully ask that you reconsider my request to join the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Although I have only been a legal spouse since November 10th, I have been in a committed relationship with my spouse since 1997. I have been at every promotion ceremony from First Lieutenant through Lieutenant Colonel. I watched with pride when she took her guideon and began company command, and I was the shoulder she cried on when she had to give it up. I have endured deployments and several TDYs, and I’ll continue to comfort our son and newborn daughter as they watch her leave on the next. When I decided to dedicate myself to my spouse, I knew all too well I was dedicating myself to the Army as well.

My record of service to the military community would be an outstanding addition to your group. I began volunteering to assist military families. As an educator, I would often tutor “Army Brats” in reading. I briefed inbound families on the different school districts, assisting in housing location decisions. I have worked with local Humane Societies to help deployed Soldiers find temporary homes for their pets while they deploy, and most recently, I volunteer as a family coordinator for the American Military Partner Association, assisting other military members with same-sex partners and their families work through the existing inequalities we face.

I am aware that I am not the only same-sex spouse denied membership in a military spouse association. It is happening in other service branches as well. The American Military Partner Association comes together to support spouses in this situation. Most recently, Tanisha Ward, the wife of a deployed Airman, was denied membership to the Little Rock Air Force Base Spouse’s Club. She and her wife had just PCS’d to Little Rock when her wife, A1C Hensley, deployed. Far away from her family and friends, Tanisha looked to other spouses for support. However, Tanisha was denied as a same-sex spouse. Ft. Bragg should not be another example of this discrimination.

You see, our lives are more similar than they are different. I am dedicated to my spouse and the country we love. I was excited to stumble upon your Facebook page, and to see an organization whose vales and enthusiasm were so in line with my own. I read through your mission and the description of your club and found a club where I could continue to make a difference. I was overjoyed when I read that the club is made up of military spouses dedicated to the tradition of the Army, while moving towards its vision of tomorrow. My families, and families like mine, are included in the vision of tomorrow’s Army. Please keep in mind that DADT was repealed over a year ago. Our Commander-in-Chief supports us; I was the first same-sex military spouse invited by the First Lady to attend her Mother’s Day Tea. We are a part of the face of this country’s future, and the White House, Pentagon, and many other posts are leaning forward to embrace this progression.

The American Military Partner Association has created a petition to ask you to end this kind of exclusion. I hope that you reconsider my membership in the Ft. Bragg OSC, as Ft. Bragg is known amongst military communities for setting the standard, leading by example, and being at the forefront of change.

Very Respectfully,

Ashley Broadway

Do you support Ashley?  Sign our petition today!


UPDATED: Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses Attempts to Solidify Discrimination



  1. Very well put… soon this will all be behind us, and our next generation will be ashamed at those who treated us as less than equal.

  2. This is crazy. Although I realize we have plenty of bigger issues in this country the spouses whether same sex or not should unite and help one another. To the young lady at LRAFB we are here also, and though my wife is no longer active we understand how you feel. My spouse is disabled now, and we were together before the DADT was repealed, so I will say be grateful you no longer have to live in fear.

  3. Ashley.. I truly hope that the Ft. Bragg OSC reconsiders it’s denial of your application. Too often people forget that the US should be a leader in embracing human rights and that, as Service members, our families have sacrificed just as much as any over the years. My partner and I have been together for 14 years, thru the same deployments, TDYs and training obligations that impact ALL families. I just hope that if the Ft. Bragg OSC considers itself an honorable organization that will uphold the values we as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines fight for everyday and, in doing so, will accept you and your spouse with open arms.
    The blood, sweat and tears of ALL service members keep this country free and our families give us that drive to carry on when times get tough. Again good luck and keep us updated on the progress

  4. VERY WELL SAID! My fiancé and I are both in the military, but in 2014 He will be getting out of the Navy to live with me and finish his college education. I will continue to be in the Army; and If he decides to join one of this associations, I would not like to know that there is discrimination towards my partner in trying to join in one of this associations. I am proud to know that there is people like you that stand up for equality! Thank you very much!

  5. Ashley – your eloquence is a testament to your feelings, and quite honestly, your control. Because I would be losing it all over the Ft. Bragg spouse club! the military spouses of Left Face Blog would be proud to count you among OUR members.

    LAW (Liberal Army Wife)

  6. I am neither a member of the military nor a military spouse. I work with a woman whose husband is a marine and the stories she has told me about the love and support she has felt from fellow spouses and family members of military families kept her sane when she didn’t know where her husband was or if she would ever see him again. It saddens me to know that same sex partners and spouses are denied that same comfort because of an outdated and discriminatory regulation that has since been repealed. I am very proud of our service members AND their spouses. I thank you all for your service and wish for a world where everyone felt the same way I do.

  7. I also hope that we will all be treated equally very soon. I am a 14 year (and counting) veteran of the Army and only recently married my partner of 13 years. She has been there through numerous TDY periods and schools as well as 3 deployments, all the while never being recognized as my partner. She did all that despite having no benefits and she will continue to support me and my career. It’s time that we are not treated like second class Soldiers. It is time that the military extend their benefits to ALL spouses regardless of orientation. My command knows about my wife and has, thankfully, welcomed her warmly. But, that is not enough. We deserve more. She deserves more.

  8. I saw this making its way around facebook, and I just want to commend your courage and persistence. You’re the best kind of spouse among us , and we’re lucky to have you. I only hope they can see that soon, too. My husband and I both stand with you in NC, and we hope that more couples of all shapes and sizes come to understand that discrimination for one of us means community for none of us.

  9. I noted the comment that future generations will be ashamed- many of us are ashamed now.
    America was founded upon many virtues, including freedom from discriminatory behavior. American Armed Service members- and their spouses- sacrifice to uphold a nation where people are free to be who they are.
    To suggest that being other than heterosexual makes on less worth or ‘qualified’ to support or be supported by those close to our nation’s warriors is not only hateful, it’s un-American. It’s simply racism wrapped in a new slogan. Last I checked, that was not only immoral, it was illegal. Have we learned nothing?

    And no- I’m not gay or bisexual. But I’m not dividing this into ‘us’ and ‘them’- that’s the whole problem. WE ARE ALL AMERICANS. Anybody who’s willing to put themselves in harm’s way deserves our full respect- and so do their spouses.

  10. My name is Brittany and I am a spouse here at Fort Bragg. As a non-officer’s wife, it has always bugged me that there was such exclusivity with this group, and that there is no group for the REST of us who don’t fit into that category. I have long wanted to start a Fort Bragg Spouse’s Club, one that was inclusive of all. Maybe it’s high time I start getting serious about that. I would, in a heart beat, love to include you.

    Time to start doing some research.

  11. I’m impressed with your eloquence when addressing not only a painful attack on your marriage but the long standing commitment you have shown to the army!!

  12. I am appalled and angry for you. Military families have enough difficulties without being excluded on the basis of sexual orientation. I don’t live near Ft. Bragg, but as a military spouse I want you to know that even though I am far away I have your back. What happened here is wrong and I applaud your courage in confronting it.

  13. A military spouse is a military spouse. End of story. As a military wife and former Family Readiness Group President (2 commands) and current Command Ombudsman, I am ashamed for the spouse association that denied Mrs. broadway membership.

  14. As a fellow military spouse, I want to say that I am ashamed of any spouses’ club that refuses to allow you to join. My husband is a career officer with more than 20 years and it seems that Officer’s Spouse’s Clubs across the US (and a few overseas) have been very slow to change – whether it be to schedule events that accommodate working spouses or change their names to reflect the growing population of husbands looking for inclusive membership. Honestly, there are many times when I’ve wondered if the Officer Spouse Club has outgrown itself. If the Officer Spouse population wants to continue to hold onto an organization that can make a positive difference in the military community, then they better damn well start accepting all members of our community. Maybe it’s time to join another spouse club so that my views can be heard loud and clear. Thank you for making your letter public.

  15. Ma’am, As the widow of a US Vietnam vet, who was an Airman and a member of the OSI, let me thank you for your wife’s service and your service, and for your eloquence in speaking up about this issue. May their eyes and hearts be opened. With gratitude and respect, H

  16. Brittany, you should start that group, ANY club that has an applicatiion process needs to go. I’ve been a member of a few spouse (changed from wives clubs!) over the years and anything that EXCLUDES is not worth anyone’s time. Hey, all you spouses at Ft Bragg who find this WRONG start your own group!! C’mon, show the narrow minded where to get off!!!

  17. You Ashley, have truly spoken words of commitment to your God, country, and family. And If such a group as ABOS can not allow such a person as yourself into a group that says to provide support to their military spouses , then perhaps they need to seriously reexamine their mission statement and call it by its true name. But I too hope they will reconsider and come to a realization they would be missing out on your story and how your family has coped throughout the past 14 years. Would the tables be turned I know these women would OT be denied in our circles. Continue to stay strong, grateful for new organizations such as AMPA and our circle of friends and family that have been our support group over the years, Hooah! Fellow Army Vet here and now spouse to an active duty member. As we continue to redefine Army Strong and truly come together as One Family!

  18. Ashley thank you for the amazing job you did writing this letter and putting yourself out there for all of us. There are a lot of people who continue to look up to you. I am proud of you. That a girl.

  19. I have friends and family in the Military. And I have friends that are same sex relationships. We are all human and all AMERICAN! Each should be treated as a equal man or woman!

  20. there are conservatives, and then there are true conservatives,, true conservatives understand that they do not have the power to decide the fate of other human beings even if they disagree with their lifestyle,, and I can’t for the life of me understand why the other brand of conservative forces me to call myself a true conservative so they can pretend to be me, especially when nobody is buying it

  21. Although, I am not an Officiers wife, I am the wife of an NCO in the US Army. I am also the mother of a soldier. I cannot imagine any reason why spouses of any branch or rank would deny help to another military spouse. It’s hard enough to be a military spouse without being out there alone. Shame on these officiers wives. They should be ashamed of themselves, everyone is entitled to their personal opinions, but when you choose to be part of an organization such as the ” Wive’s Club”, you put those aside and support your fellow spouses. We all have something to share…we should be allowed to do so freely. A suggestion for the spouses who were denied, maybe join the FRG attached to your unit. I for one, am grateful for any support given to my husband, son, and family during our service.

  22. I was president of an OWC in the mid-90’s and had to present to my ladies that a man (spouse) wanted to join our group. I was elated since that was the way things were going in the military with so many more females being the active duty member and married to stay-at-home husbands. First thing I had to approach the group to change the name to an OSC (officer’s spouses club) which was not well received either. But mostly from the older, retired ladies that really didn’t have a firm say or vote in the group since they had already “served” their time and were just enjoying the benefits of continued camaraderie and friendship of a military group. After some serious discussion and changes in our constitution, we soon became a “spouses club” and our first male member not only joined but became a board member. So many of the older, retired ladies were appalled and resigned their membership. We felt it was their loss and thoroughly enjoyed our male membership. The next base we PSC’d to I soon became president of that OSC (note they had already changed to a spouses club). And upon taking office, found myself with a male “honorary president and advisor” since his wife was the Wing Commander of the base. What a nice touch that was to have input from a male’s point of view. As my board came together that year, I ended up with 3 males serving and making a lot of good changes to our groups future.
    So hopefully, this too will soon become accepted and the people involved will learn to be flexible and supportive of all military spouses, whomever they may be.

  23. I read your letter with tears in my eyes. You are exactly what I think of as a spouse. You are strong, an active volunteer & have shown support throughout the years of your spouse’s career. Keep strong & know you are in my prayers. I have signed the petition & passed it on via FB.

  24. What a wonderfully stated letter! The fact that this spouse is STILL asking to be included in this group is a great testament to her character. For everything she has done in terms of volunteering, giving back to military families and advocating for human rights, not only should she be allowed membership into this elitist of an organization, she should take it over and help those other spouses understand what “supporting the service member” actually means, because they’ve either forgotten, or were never taught.

  25. What are the rules that deny her entry into the “group”. (Rules are made to be changed) I say if she is a spouse, she is a spouse. Let her join and then don’t judge once she is there. She is a person, with feelings. She needs companions when her spouse is gone, friends with kids, support! Isn’t that what those groups are for?
    Who cares who she is married to? If the Army can accept it, then spouses group should as well.

  26. This is terribly sad. Ashely, I am so, so very sorry that you had to explain your “Worth” to this group. You are the wife of an officer in the United States Military, and therefore certianly entitled to joinhe Ft. Bragg OCS. My husband is currently in OCS, after being enlisted for 10 years. I have to say that after he comissioned I was looking forward to joing an OCS. If I had been a member at Ft. Bragg and they had excluded you for no other reason than being gay I could have promptly left the group. DADT has been repealed, personally I don’t think it ever should have existed in the first place. Those women need to get over themselves and embrace the forward movement being made by this country, after far, far too many years of blatant discrimination. SHAME on them!

  27. Try the enlisted side. I am sure they will not turn their noses up.

  28. I just saw someone arguing that DOMA prevents her recognition. What rubbish. Some people seem to think DOMA prevents any and all benefits, no matter the circumstances. In reality, it “only” affects other laws. The reason military benefits are such an issue is that most of them are written down in laws, but unless that club is governed by a specific law, DOMA simply doesn’t apply here.

  29. Ashley, I am so very sorry that this has happened to you and your family. I hope something happens and they will reconsider and if you still choose to do so, I am sure that you will be a wonderful asset to the Club. The military has come a long way in this regard but clearly, there is still more to do. As for me, I love to have a variety of people to learn from and to interact with and in my opinion, it is their loss. Please keep your chin up and thank you so much for sharing.

  30. In your statement you only mentioned that you were denied. Were you told you were denied because your marriage is a same-sex marriage or were you told you were denied for other reasons?

    Just curious.


  31. What a ridiculous thing to have happen. It’s time that people are accepted for who they are and we left all of this intolerance become a thing of the past.
    This person is a MILITARY SPOUSE. She should be entitled to the same rights and respect as a straight military spouse.

  32. Thank you for your service and for fighting the fight.

  33. The Pope/Bragg Spouses’ Association (formerly Pope Spouses’ Association) is a spouses’ club open to enlisted, officer and civilian spouses associated with Pope/Bragg. This group includes ALL Services. Since the BRAC, the group has dwindled and many people do not know we exist. In fact we need members to survive another year! See us on:, or email us at Everyone is welcomed into this group!

  34. Ashley, I’m a fellow military spouse of an active duty officer and I would gladly welcome you at into our spouses’ club. Good luck with your petition — I plan to sign!

  35. There is no reason that either of these women should have been treated unfairly the way they were. If there are any on here from LRAFB that have been treated this way, I ask they you message me personally on FB. I am part of a group of unique women who are accepting to others beliefs and will show support to those that choose to have take it. Bless you all!!

  36. As a fellow military spouse, I feel awful about this situation. Pure bigotry. On the other hand, I am not really surprised. Many of these groups don’t serve their purpose anyways but have become places where some people could feel important and pretend they are doing something. Can you imagine how the idea of admitting a lesbian spouse made their heads spin? I actually hope that this case and the public outcry would push some badly needed reforms down their throats…

  37. this is absolutely shameful. i can’t believe that ashley practically has to beg this association to allow her entrance, and i commend her for her restraint and manners in fighting the good fight so respectfully in the face of such discrimination. as a military spouse, i am embarrassed that people like this represent us and apologetic for any partner who has to face behaviors like this. absolutely disgusting.

  38. Ashley, as a military spouse, and a leader of many OSC groups in the past, I offer you a heart felt apology on behalf of these spouses. I am not quite sure what they were thinking when they denied you the right to join their spouses club. I DO want you to know that this is NOT the opinion of military spouses everywhere! I thank you, your wife and your family for your service and sacrifice to our country! If you came to me, I would gladly offer you my support, from military spouse to military spouse!

    All of my very best,

  39. Ashley, as the spouse of a junior officer, I want you to know that YOU are the type of military spouse I look up to. You have made such incredible accomplishments all in the face of adversity. This group doesn’t even deserve your membership. Bravo for calling these bigots out on their horrid behavior.

  40. I am an officer wive and I am upset that someone would go so far as to NOT included a spouse into any group. No where does it say you need an ID. These women are making up rules as they go. To be honest, I was told in the past NOT to join this group as the are very uptight, stuck up and rude. I have never been to a meeting nor will I ever after this wrong doing. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope they open their eyes and see what an asset you will be to the group.

  41. I am a heterosexual spouse of an enlisted member, as well as the daughter of an enlisted member and this ticks me off to no end. I should not be surprised – I’ve seen girlfriends, fiances and male spouses excluded, as well as childless spouses (like me). Luckily the branch of service my husband is in seems to be a lot more accepting and open thus far at all the units he’s been stationed. I will say this – if we ever go to a unit and a spouse is being discriminated against for race/sex/sexual orientation, I will NOT stand for it, and make sure something is done. And if I’m ever in any organization that decides to exclude, I will be out that door telling them not to bother to call me again until they get a clue.

    Good luck! I hope they get their act together.


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