Mostly, I wonder why, when other couples would be enjoying their honeymoon, did LTC Mack and her wife elect to make membership in a military spouses club their cause célèbre a month after they were married. You can’t help hearing about their fight against the board members at Bragg, and thinking of the Groucho Marx quote, “I don’t care to belong to any group that would have me as a member.” Only in this case, it’s reversed. Does Ms. Broadway truly desire to be a part of a club whose board members played a little ‘Three Card Monte’ with the bylaws to keep her out? Or did she see this as an opening to grind her personal axe? I don’t question people’s motivation, but I do know that I would probably bear some ill-will towards those who ‘seemed’ to exclude me from an activity or organization based on who I loved. I know that some will come to Broadway’s defense, beat the drum of equality and shout for all to hear: “Equality Now!”, “Prejudice Ends Here!” “Justice Trumps Bigotry!” and so on. But recall that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 led to The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Social and legal justice for minorities only really moved in a positive direction in the 101st year after it was instituted. At the home of the 101st Airborne, I would hope equality and social justice wouldn’t take such an appallingly long time. But I am hardly surprised that it seems to be taking longer than 1 year.
I suppose I shouldn’t weigh in on something I know little about. I shouldn’t try to presume I know about what it’s like to be a military member or his or her partner in a closeted relationship for such a long time. I guess I haven’t been part of a group that was excluded from an on-post activity merely because of my membership in a protected class (gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, etc.). Oh wait, I was…
When we were overseas, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) was a group I had heard of, but really had little interest in joining. I took my toddler daughter to an installation playgroup every week, and that was wonderful. And quite enough for me in any given week. But I heard that, as a male military spouse, I couldn’t join (or that I would have been unwelcome…I really didn’t press the issue or scour the MOPS bylaws) an adjunct military organization with an affiliation at USAG Stuttgart. (It had something to do with protecting a ‘sphere of comfort’ in talking about the female anatomy and its occasionally graphic ‘content’) I looked at their website, and while there is no mention of a ‘No Boys Allowed’ policy, the language is unmistakably ‘female’. Well, what I do know is that my first instinct was not to make a huge issue out of it, involve the installation commander, or call every news outlet that would take my call and take up my cause.
Now it seems as if I might have gotten some traction with it. My being unwelcome or excluded by a spouse support group that met on-post merely because I was a male would have been blatant gender discrimination. And I probably could have run my ‘Male Military Spouse’ flag up the pole and determined whether the Supreme Court would salute or not. And, just a guess, someone involved with the Bragg situation is going to make some speaking appearances, write a book, or become rather noteworthy, at least in certain circles. Again, I don’t question peoples’ motivation. But some will.
I am pleased that LTC Mack and Ms. Broadway have found true love with one another. Finding love, any love, in this often brutal and punishingly cynical world is something of a minor miracle. And I congratulate them on the upcoming birth of their second child. I appreciate that Ms. Broadway has largely been living the life of a military spouse, even if her official designation didn’t reflect it. I just fear that the blowback they receive from pushing this issue will do more harm to their cause than gaining membership to the spouses’ club at Bragg will further it. Will this issue trigger the membership of the officer spouses’ club at Ft. Bragg to leave en masse out of protest against the seemingly underhanded way Broadway was kept out? Or, in the spirit of “religion is not the only thing people don’t like shoved down their throat”, will the controversy trigger an already latent bigotry against gays in the military to become more open and fervent? I have no idea. Only time will tell.