The Pentagon has backed army leaders at a North Carolina base who chose not to intervene in the case of the wife of a lesbian service member who was denied admittance into a spouses’ club.
At the US Army’s Fort Bragg base in North Carolina, the wife of a lesbian officer was denied entry to the spouses club operating there.
Ashley Broadway, the wife of Lieutenant Colonel, Heather Mack, was declined entry into the officers’ spouses club, because it does not allow same-sex couples in.
Spokespeople for the Army and the Pentagon cited a Federal anti-discrimination policy from 2008, which had not been updated since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which banned gay service members from serving openly, because it did not include sexual orientation, reports BuzzFeed.
An Army spokesperson said: “Federal discrimination laws don’t extend to sexual orientation.”
A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that the Department of Defence “neither drafts, executes nor exercises control over the Club or its governing documents. Private organizations who adhere to the criteria outlined in applicable instructions are allowed base access.”
Ben Abel, a spokesman at Fort Bragg, said the spouses group is “not in violation of the law in the way that they are operating now.”
The base leader, General Daniel Allyn, came under criticism from pro-LGBT military groups, which conceded that the spouses’ club was not in violation of the policy, but that the decision by the club did not have to be tolerated.
“This response sounds like a very defensive final answer on the matter.” said Allyson Robinson, the executive director of OutServe-SLDN, the largest LGBT military organization in the US.
“As a private organization, the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses is free to discriminate, but what General 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.”
This news is very different from an announcement last week that the US Marine Corps issued advice to its legal staff to say that spouses clubs operating on its military bases must admit gay couples, or will have to leave.
The Marines are the first to tackle such issues in the wake of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which banned gay service members from being open about their sexuality.