When Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and civilian Will Behrens wanted to seal their commitment in a civil union in New Jersey, they chose a venue that nine months ago would have been unthinkable: a military base.
The grooms said their vows on June 23 before 150 guests at the chapel at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst — the first time a civil union or gay wedding has been held in such a facility in the United States.
While the couple says there’s still a larger battle to be won before they can live in true domestic bliss, they hope the significance of that ceremony will not be lost on others in the military who want to live openly.
“It’s a struggle that Will and I have gone through and so many people are going through,” Umali, an active-duty serviceman in the Air Force, told the Daily News on Wednesday. “Now I can introduce Will as my partner or my husband instead of my friend or my boyfriend. We don’t have to live in fear.”