Responding to an ongoing controversy at Fort Bragg, the Marine Corps today issued a directive that on-base “spouses clubs” must admit the husbands and wives of gay service members.
It’s a step that the other service branches have not yet announced as they grapple with how to accommodate same-sex couples following repeal of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly. Underscoring the challenges, the Marines’ legal advisory — obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press — refers to an ongoing controversy at the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina where the officers’ spouses club has denied admission to a same-sex spouse.
The Marine Corps commandant’s Staff Judge Advocate, in an e-mail to legal offices throughout the corps, said the Fort Bragg events had “caused quite a stir” and cautioned, “We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard.” The memo noted that spouses clubs and various other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy encompassing race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin. “We would interpret a spouses club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex,” the memo said.
OutServe-SLDN praised the move via press release:
The Marine Corps guidance issued today is a breakthrough and a clear indication that General Amos meant what he said when he promised Marines would lead the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Secretary Panetta should use his authority immediately to bring consistency across the services with regard to this issue and in doing so, a greater measure of equity to gay and lesbian service members and their families.