Army Maj. Daniel Toven & Johnathan Taylor
Photo by Elizabeth Frantz for The Fayetteville Observer
Fort Bragg, one of the nation’s top military bases, hosted its first celebration of a same-sex relationship Saturday, with a ceremony blessing the union of Army Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor. About 100 relatives and friends of the couple attended, including notable military members such as Lt. Col. Heather Mack and her wife, Ashley Broadway, who fought to have Broadway admitted to the Fort Bragg Officers’ Spouses Club, and Staff Sgt. Tracy Johnson, the first same-sex war widow in the U.S. military; her wife, Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson, was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.
Toven, a former music student, joined the Army in 2003 and now leads a military band. Taylor is a nurse at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Toven said the ceremony was “a dream come true.”
Although the ceremony was not technically a wedding, as same-sex marriage—since it's not legally recognized in North Carolina where Fort Bragg is located—the couple had previously wed legally in August in Washington, D.C., which does offer legal marriages to gay couples. The Rev. Harry Abernathy conducted an Episcopal ritual of blessing, similar to a marriage ceremony, for Toven and Taylor at Fort Bragg’s chapel, reports The Fayetteville Observer. “He added that the couple’s relationship was a sign of God’s love,” the paper noted in its front page article that included a photo of the two men kissing under crossed sabers.
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