Same-sex couple’s wedding makes history in Antarctica
A couple has made history with their wedding in Antarctica. Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, who are both stewards on a polar research ship RRS Sir David Attenborough, tied the knot on Sunday, becoming the first same-sex couple to wed in the British Antarctic Territory (BAT) of Antarctica.
Bourne and Carpenter, who have been together for 20 years, got married aboard the ship with 30 crew members. The historic ceremony was performed on the helideck by Captain Will Whatley.
They first met working aboard another ship, before being deployed in the last Gulf War.
They have traveled the world together on various ships. Three years ago, Bourne began working for British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the U.K. research center for studying the polar regions. When Carpenter joined RRS Sir David Attenborough last year, they realized Antarctica would the perfect place for a wedding.
“Antarctica is such an incredible place. We have been together for 20 years but now we’ve both been to Antarctica together, it felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot,” Carpenter said, according to the BAS.
“We’ve even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings,” he added. The location of those coordinates overlooks the mountain peaks and icebergs of Antarctic Peninsula — the couple’s favorite view.
The reception for the wedding won’t be held until May 8, when the ship returns to the Rothera Research Station. The couple will also celebrate with friends and family in Spain later this year, the BAS said.
A change to marriage laws in 2016 made having a legal wedding in the BAT easier, and the continent has hosted several weddings since then. Atlas Ocean Voyages, an expedition cruise line, said they performed the first official wedding in Antarctica in February 2022, and the BAS says Bourne and Carpenter’s wedding was the second amongst its staff in the territory.
Bourne and Carpenter’s marriage was registered with the BAT Government, and it will be valid in the U.K. The law that allows legal marriages in the territory mirrors that of England and Wales, meaning all couples — including same sex couples — can apply for a marriage license.
“We’re both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory,” Bourne said. “BAS is such a welcoming and accepting employer, and we feel very lucky to be able to live and work in such an incredible community and place together.”
CBS News has reached out to the BAS and BAT for more information and is awaiting response.
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