The tradition is called the Arch of Swords, a romantic, sweet, tear-jerking moment that happens after a couple is married at a military base. The arch presented this last Saturday in Fort Bragg is also an historic event as it is the first ceremony of its kind to be performed with a same-sex couple on one of the U.S. Army’s largest military bases.
The couple, Major Daniel Toven and his partner Johnathan Taylor, invited about a hundred friends, family and associates to attend the ceremony. Among the guests were a one-star general and a top enlisted soldier.
In North Carolina where the base is located, gay marriage is still illegal so the Episcopal ceremony held in Fort Bragg’s largest chapel had to be defined as a “church blessing.” The couple had been married just recently in Washington D.C.
Reverend Harry Abernathy, who led the ceremony, said that the liturgy was one of blessing, not marriage, but the two were very similar. He added that the couple’s relationship was a sign of God’s love.
A local newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, reported that Major Toven is a band leader at Fort Bragg, and his partner is a nurse at the local hospital, the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.
Toven, whose position brings him a bit of notoriety on base, thought there might have been some resistance when he first started dating Taylor. He said, “There was that moment when the angels were singing.” Taylor added. “From then on, it’s just been normal.”