It is rare that a military spouse makes national headlines for the sole reason that they are a military spouse, are in a committed relationship with the person they love, and try to involve themselves with the military community at large. It’s unfortunate that the most recent instance involves an issue and an occasion that is causing so much uproar.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about LTC Heather Mack and her wife Ashley Broadway, who have been together for 15 years. If not, check out the following website:
I’m all for progress. I’m all for equality. I’m all for decency and respect. I’m against hating people for the color of their skin. I’m against prejudice based on sex (what someone’s is, or with whom he or she has it). I’m against discrimination based on where you were born, or which name you choose to address your deity. Or deities. Or whether you believe in any transcendent being whatsoever.
I’m also against 1) being wildly intolerant against those you call intolerant, 2) haughtily judging those you deem judgmental, and 3) general self-righteousness in the face of those you attack as self-righteous.
Also, I’m for a little common sense.
I usually can tell that there’s little of substance in what someone says or writes when I hear hasty generalizations, “-isms”, or ad hominem attacks: “Stupid, backward, religiously fanatical, hate-filled…conservative.” or “godless, nihilistic, self-indulgent, parasitic…liberal” There seems to be a whole lot of that going on in the message boards linked to this story.
Perhaps you’ve heard the quote that goes something like this (I paraphrase for the somewhat squeamish): “Religion is like a (male member). It’s fine to have one and be proud of it. But don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around, and especially don’t try shoving it down my or my kid’s throat”
Clever? Eh. Amusing? A little, I guess. Applicable to just about every belief system, personal activity or ideological inclination? Absolutely. Religion is not the only thing that people don’t like having shoved down their throats. Not by a long shot.
What I find a little unsettling is the circumstances in which this has made the national news. It was only a year ago that DADT was repealed. It was only a month ago that LTC Mack and Broadway were married. The two of them should be pretty happy with the strides the gay community has made within the ranks of the military. I know some advocates of the repeal of DADT feared that, even if DADT were repealed, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military would be mere lip-service, and that a piece of legislation would not really eradicate the prejudice facing gay service members. Many feared that discrimination and prejudice would be pushed beneath the surface, and become more insidious. But as far as I know, there really hasn’t been that much (if any) division or discord in the aftermath of the repeal of DADT. And that’s wonderful ‘non-news’.
But laws don’t create ‘culture’. Quite the contrary: popular culture creates laws. But in the military, internal culture and tradition provide much of the footing for many elements of pride, policy and the general climate within the ranks. It also changes at a much slower pace than in society at large. So repealing DADT wouldn’t automatically cleanse the military of anti-gay prejudice. I really can only speak to my own experiences, but from the conversations I’ve had, service members don’t care. They don’t care that DADT was repealed. Many seemed to be overjoyed with the repeal. They also don’t care if one or more of their colleagues happens to be gay. Their only concern continues to be “Is this person f’in-A squared away?” That’s it. The folks I’ve spoken with (completely informally) have honestly expressed their utter indifference as to what one of their colleagues finds sexually appealing or whom they love. Competence, qualification, aptitude and attitude were really the only thing that mattered. What matters, matters. What doesn’t, doesn’t. Great. I wish it would be like that all the time.
The details of the situation are pretty clear. Supposedly, Ms. Broadway was not granted admission to the club because she did not have a spouse/dependent ID. The Defense of Marriage Act does not grant spouses in same-sex marriages that privilege. So, it seems that Ms. Broadway could not shop at the Exchange or even get on post by herself. It also seems as if the bylaw about the ID card seems to have been suspiciously ‘included’ after this issue came to the fore, and that their stated policy of welcoming all spouses of Bragg officers seems pretty unambiguous. I have many questions about the legal dimensions of all of this, including where they were married, what their official state of residence is, and whether their marriage is either recognized or took place there, or whether that has any bearing whatsoever on a federal military installation. It may be the case that none of those things even matter. I’m also curious about what legal tactics or social histrionics will be summoned to resolve this issue. I’m not a JAG. I just watch one on TV.