CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The University of North Carolina system has made the decision to follow federal law and grant in-state tuition to same-sex spouses of U.S. military personnel.
The decision was announced by a spokesperson at Fayetteville State University, where a wife of an active-duty Front Bragg soldier was earlier denied in-state tuition. The spokesperson told The Fayetteville Observer on Wednesday that UNC system officials had directed the school to comply with federal law.
“The guidance we have received is that active duty military service members and their spouses, without regard to whether the marriage is between persons of the same or opposite sex, qualify for in-state tuition rates as long as the marriage occurred in a jurisdiction that recognizes the relationship as a valid marriage,” college spokesperson Jeff Womble told the Fayettevile newspaper via email.
The American Military Partner Association (AMPA) commended the decision.
“We applaud the leadership of the UNC system for making the right decision,” Stephen Peters, president of AMPA, said in a release. “Gay and lesbian military spouses make the same sacrifices and face the same challenges as our heterosexual counterparts, and we certainly deserve access to the same benefits. All we are asking for is to be treated the same, no more and no less. We implore the leadership of other university systems in non-marriage equality states to comply with federal law which requires them to grant in-state tuition to ALL military spouses.”
AMPA was involved in an earlier local case, when Ashley Broadway was barred — and later allowed to join — the Fort Bragg Officer’s Spouses club.
Fayetteville State University was put in a tricky spot with the student’s request. North Carolina’s Constitution bars recognition of same-sex spouses, conflicting with federal law. The college asked the UNC System for guidance. The Fayetteville Observer was unable to reach a spokesperson for the UNC system.