The Marines’ top legal officer has told all Marine lawyers that the corps will not support Marine spouses’ clubs that discriminate against same-sex couples.
The issue has come to the fore since the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses at the Army’s Fort Bragg in North Carolina refused to allow a married couple, one of whom is an Army officer, to join last month. The club has said it will reconsider the policy at its next meeting.
According to the message the Marine Staff Judge Advocate sent out Tuesday:
MCO 5760 states that any NFE [non-federal entity] desiring to operate on one of our installations shall state in its constitution (or other document of incorporation) that `no person shall be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, sex, age, disability, or national origin or otherwise subjected to unlawful discrimination. We would interpret a spouse’s club’s decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse’s sex.
The Marines made clear discrimination isn’t an option they’ll entertain. “I need you to pass the word in your respective areas of operation and keep an ear out for any similar fact scenarios (regarding any type of discrimination),” a second Marine message says. “We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard. Also, keep in mind, we typically provide support (e.g.: logistical) to these organizations, and discriminatory practices can complicate our ability to provide this support.”
“It’s not an official Marine Corps policy change or anything,” Marine Captain Eric Flanagan said late Wednesday. “It’s just guidance that has been issued to lawyers around the Marine Corps.”
Your move, Army. Or, the Pentagon could simply issue orders for all the services.