In Marriage on July 17, 2012 at 9:52 am
Will and Erwynn met at church and fell in love. But they had a big problem—“don’t ask, don’t tell.” The unlikely story of the first gay military union.
It’s almost Christmas, and I’m eating lunch with Tech Sgt. Erwynn Umali and his fiance Will Behrens at a Cracker Barrel in New Jersey. Erwynn, 34, is an active-duty serviceman in the Air Force. Will, 35, is a branch manager for a financial firm. There are six months to go until Will and Erwynn get married at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, a joint military base in Wrightstown, N.J. It will be the first publicly announced gay civil union or wedding ever to take place on an American military installation. But today is about family, not planning for the big day. With us are Will’s children from a previous marriage, his 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. When the country fried steak and chicken and dumplings arrive, everyone joins hands in prayer. Will thanks God for our food and prays that I’ll make it home safely. We say amen and eat.
Little about the couple’s biographies would suggest that they would become gay rights trailblazers or find themselves on the progressive side of a culture war. Will was born outside of Chicago in 1976. His mother was a teacher. His father, a marine-turned-fundamentalist-minister, spent most of the year on the road through his work with Fairhaven Baptist church in Chesterton, Ind. Will’s father was its youth pastor and vice president of the church’s small Christian college.
Fairhaven Baptist was founded by Dr. Roger Voegtlin, a firm believer in corporal punishment. Will recalls Dr. Voegtlin giving spanking demonstrations and instructions during church. Will’s parents followed Dr. Voegtlin’s example, imposing strict discipline on Will and his three siblings. Will ran away from home twice, in fifth and sixth grade, because he was so fearful of punishment from his father.
In lgbt equality, inclusion, Marriage on June 8, 2012 at 8:55 am
Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III of the Friendship-West Baptist Church blasted fellow pastors and members of his congregation for their outrage at President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality while the congregation stood up and shouted their disapproval at him.
“You should have seen preachers just scurrying and hurrying to call a conference call to call out the President for what he had declared as a personal opinion. He said it was a personal opinion. But whatever you like to ostracize other people it’s because there’s a fear that you have yourself, and the fear that you have finds itself rooted in an ignorance of other people. Or in a projection of your issues. Either there’s ignorance or there is a projection of your issues…It really blows my mind how outraged you are. You are so outraged over what the President said. First of all, take a chill pill. Take a deep breath, everything’s gonna be all right.”
Read more: .towleroad
In lgbt equality, inclusion on May 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm
An eastern Louisville Baptist church has ordained an openly gay man as a minister with unanimous support from church members.
Highland Baptist Church on Sunday ordained Maurice “Bojangles” Blanchard, a local gay-rights advocate who started the church’s gay and lesbian outreach group last year.
Church Pastor Joe Phelps says ordaining Blanchard was “new territory” for the church but in April it moved to support his ordination.
The Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based gay rights organization, hailed Blanchard’s ordination as 1 of only about two dozen at Baptist churches in the U.S.