In one of the first civil unions on a military to take place since the repeal of DADT, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his partner Will Behrens tied the knot just this past weekend. A Navy Chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America performed the ceremony at the military base where Sgt. Umali is stationed. “We hope to be an inspiration to others in the LGBT community that struggle with the challenge of marriage equality,” the couple said in a statement after the ceremony, “A historic event like this shows that progress is being made.” Marriage equality is a right that should be afforded to all willing individuals. In order to create stronger families and communities, the recognition of LGBT couples helps to provide a culture of acceptance and tolerance for our children to grow up happy and healthy in. This wonderful couple stand as a symbol of progress on the road to equality for all families.
Read an excerpt from the ArmyTimes.com story below:
An Air Force airman and his partner have been united in a civil union ceremony held at the military base where the airman is stationed.
Dozens of friends and family members attended Saturday afternoon’s ceremony for Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens. It 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.
“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.”
Reeb, who had never presided over a civil union ceremony before, said she 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,” he said.
Among those attending the event held at the base’s chapel was former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, the first U.S. service member seriously injured in the Iraq War. He later revealed that he was gay and became a prominent advocate for ending the military’s ban on openly gay service members.
“It’s blessing for me to be here today,” said Alva, who now travels around the country promoting equal rights issues. “A historic event like this shows that progress is being made.” . . .