Last month, the U.S. military celebrated its first on-base “wedding” ceremony for same-sex couples when an Air Force sergeant “married” his homosexual partner at a base in New Jersey. Tech Sgt. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens, a civilian, “married” June 23 on the grounds of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, where Umali was stationed. “It was a decision that would have been unthinkable just nine months ago, before the law requiring them to keep their relationship a secret was repealed,” reported ABC News.
“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 two men expressed in a statement following the event. “We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality.” The couple insisted that “this issue is not just about the military, but the equal sacrifice and shared burdens of our loved ones who are civilians.”
Complicit in the affair was Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain and minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who presided over the “wedding” ceremony. “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,” Reeb said of the event.
In a Facebook chat sponsored by Slate.com, the couple said that officials on the military base were very accommodating throughout the whole affair. “We asked [about holding the ceremony on the base], and they were very open about it, but [said], ‘No one has ever asked us this question before,’” Umali wrote in the chat. “We did not get any push back from the base or leadership. All they asked was that we be patient because this was the very first one.”
While news reports said that a few dozen family and friends attended the homosexual “nuptials,” the immediate families of the men did not approve of the partnership. “Both men grew up in strict religious families,” ABC News reported. “Behrens’ parents don’t approve of his homosexuality, and Umali’s parents in the Philippines are still struggling with his homosexuality.”
Click here to read the entire article.