Reserve Captain Sagi Golan and his male partner Omer Ohana were due to get married on October 20, with the song “I Was Fortunate to Love” by Israeli star Ivri Lider accompanying them along the aisle.
Instead, Lider, a gay artist, performed the song at Golan’s funeral, while white cotton flowers, produced for the tables at the wedding, adorned a funeral wreath instead.
Golan fell while fighting Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Be’eri, one of the Gaza border towns that has come to epitomize the murderous rampage of October 7 when some 2,500 terrorists burst through the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel, and murdered 1,400 Israelis, the majority of them civilians. They took more than 200 hostages.
More than 100 terrorists are thought to have entered Kibbutz Be’eri, massacring more than 120 of its residents, among them entire families, and setting homes on fire to smoke them out before gunning them down.
Golan’s unit managed to rescue some of those under attack.
For his compulsory military service, Golan had been accepted into the prestigious 8200 intelligence unit, whose graduates often go on to stellar high-tech and business careers.
But he chose to enter a combat unit, completing the course for Lotar — an elite special unit dealing with counter-terrorism.
On the morning of October 7, he and Ohana — both high-tech workers — woke up in their apartment in coastal Herzliya and turned the radio on to hear the morning news.
Golan “jumped out of bed, he didn’t get up,” Ohana sold Channel 12 news through tears.
Even though nobody called on him to report for duty, “He had his uniform in hand, he brushed his teeth, and within a few minutes, we were at the front door,” Ohana said. “He gave me a kiss on the lips, and he said [he’d be back in] ‘Less than a week.'”
Golan, 30, originally from the central city of Raanana, fell leading his unit on Saturday night.
Formal notice of his death only came early Wednesday morning.
According to Ohana, the soldier deputed to deliver the bitter news wasn’t used to mixing with gay couples and made a point of saying it.
On the form Ohad was asked to sign, there was no place for a male partner. “I asked for something, and they said I had to request his parents,” Ohana recalled. “It made me so angry. I was the one who loved him. But I’m not taken into account. And he wasn’t taken into account.”
Gay marriage is not condoned in Israel, where weddings are controlled by Jewish religious authorities.
An IDF spokeswoman said parents were the address for a fallen soldier if the soldier had been neither married nor known in common law to have had a partner, and that this applied to heterosexual and homosexual couples in the same way.
If Ohana wanted to be recognized as Golan’s common law partner, he could apply to the Defense Ministry.
The couple had planned to have children, via a surrogate. Golan’s sperm was frozen after he died.
Golan’s mother, Eti, told Channel 12, that there was “no reason in the world” for the state not to honor his son’s wish to have children, and that “under no circumstances” would Omer Ohana not be recognized as the father of her grandchild.
Knesset opposition leader Yair Lapid told the Ynet news site that Golan “fell in the battle for Be’eri. Sagi and his partner Omer were about to get married. The State of Israel must treat Omer exactly as they treat any spouse of a fallen warrior. If Sagi is good enough to die for his country, he deserves that his own country will respect the person that his heart chose, allow him to have a child, and embrace him with love. I promise you, Omer, I will be by your side.”
The couple met six years ago, and Golan proposed a year ago on a volcano in Tenerife, Ohana said.