Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his partner, Will Behrens, were united in a civil union ceremony last week. That's nice, eh?
But what makes it different is that these two men had their civil union ceremony at the military base where Umali is stationed. And dozens of friends and family members attended the ceremony which was presided over by Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who also serves at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens:
“We are so honored to be a part of this historic moment to be one of the first gay couples allowed to unite in a civil union on a military base,” the couple said in a statement after the ceremony. We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality. And that this issue is not just about the military, but the equal sacrifice and shared burdens of our loved ones who are civilians.”
And Reeb, who has never presided over a civil union ceremony before, was delighted to take part:
"I told them the same thing I tell every couple — love each other and trust in each other and in God, that’s what keeps us together.”
Also attending the ceremony was former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first U.S. service member seriously injured in the Iraq War. He later came out as gay and worked diligently in the efforts to overturn DADT:
"It’s blessing for me to be here today. A historic event like this shows that progress is being made.”
Air Force Capt. Ryan Quinn, another guest, said:
“I really do think this is an important event. And I was happy to be here with them and their families. The amount of support I’ve seen for them from the people (at the base) and the military community makes me proud to serve in the Air Force.”
Hopefully that same pride that the military is showing toward the LGBT community since the end of DADT will one day translate to the civilian community. Maybe one day they will attend our weddings as we have often attended theirs.
Equality is a beautiful thing.
via The Army Times