For 15 years, Ashley Broadway has devoted her life to the military and to her spouse, an Army lieutenant colonel.
The former schoolteacher found a new job and made new friends each time she had to relocate bases, including a move to South Korea. When a deployment to the Middle East separated the couple, Broadway took care of the couple's young son, Carson, on her own.
Now at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and with a second child on the way, Broadway wanted to settle down and get to know more spouses like herself.
So she applied for membership to the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses.
"I thought, 'Here's a chance to make some close friends who would really understand me,'" Broadway said. "And I could get very active in events that help other families like mine. I was excited, really excited, to be a part of this group."
But the Bragg spouse club apparently didn't feel the same way. Broadway's married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack. The officers' spouse club didn't want her, she believes, because she's gay.
Shortly after Broadway applied, the club called her to say it had new membership rules. If she didn't have a military ID card, she couldn't join.
The couple is legally married -- reciting their vows during a November ceremony in Washington, D.C., and signing a state marriage certificate.
Broadway's experience may reflect a struggle at the nation's military bases to adapt culturally to the legal changes brought on by 2011's repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Brass at Fort Bragg told CNN that they had no control over the spouse club because it's not a military group, but a private one.
Though gay people can now serve openly, the military doesn't formally recognize same-sex marriage under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed in 1996 that denies many benefits to same-sex spouses. One of those benefits is military IDs.
The cards are an essential part of military life, allowing holders to get on base, access child care or go to the commissary.
"The cards are also a big symbol," Broadway recalled. "So there I am listening to this person with this club tell me I can't join as I'm struggling to get my 2-year-old out of the car and into the house. And I just kept hearing over and over, 'You don't have an ID. You don't have an ID.' I was hearing it as, 'You are not equal. You are less.'"
Her voice breaks. "I kept thinking that if these people just met me, they would like me," she said, crying.
When Broadway hung up, she grabbed a laundry basket and began furiously folding clothes in her bedroom. She texted a friend who is also gay, also married to a service member and was himself in the military years ago.
"How can anyone not in our position know how this feels?" she asked.
By that night, she was just plain angry. No way was she just going to go away quietly.
Broadway posted an open letter to the club on the American Military Partner Association, the nation's go-to support network for gay, lesbian and transgender military families.
Another club rejection
AMPA launched a petition not only for Broadway but also for other spouses who've tried and were barred from joining similar clubs, including Tanisha Ward.