Col. Timothy Wagoner, a chaplain in the Air Force, has quit the Southern Baptist Convention following a controversy over his attendance at a gay civil union ceremony.

Wagoner severed ties with the denomination and joined the more progressive Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“I find very little that is more important and nothing that is more exhilarating than providing for the religious freedoms and spiritual care of all service members and their families – and will joyfully continue to do,” Wagoner told the AP.

Wagoner attended the civil union ceremony of Tech. Sgt. Erwynn Umali and Will Behrens at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Wrightstown, New Jersey late last month. The ceremony is considered the first to be held on a military base since repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the law which for 18 years banned gay and bisexual troops from serving openly.

Kay Reeb, a Navy chaplain with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who also serves at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, presided over the ceremony. She said she was delighted to participate in her first civil union.

Also in attendance was former Marine Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, who lobbied Congress for repeal of the gay ban.

Wagoner exited the Southern Baptist Convention after the denomination publicly questioned his decision to attend the ceremony.