'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!'
Two British sailors who have traveled the globe together for two decades made history on Sunday by becoming the first same-sex couple to tie the knot in British Antarctic Territory. Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter, who are both stewards on the RRS Sir David Attenborough—a polar research ship on its maiden voyage in Antarctica—said "I do" aboard the ship with 30 crew members in a historic ceremony performed on the helideck by Captain Will Whatley. According to a press release from their employer, the British Antarctic Survey, the duo decided to get married when Carpenter joined the ship's crew last year and realized Antarctica would be the perfect place for their 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 in a statement. Adding an extra special touch to their nuptials, Bourne and Carpenter reportedly had their wedding rings engraved with the coordinates of their ceremony, 67 34' S 68 08' W.
The couple wed while standing on the deck of the ship overlooking "the Antarctic Peninsula complete with mountain peaks and icebergs in the bay – the couple's favorite view." Speaking of their historic nuptials, Bourne said: "We're both very proud to be the first same-sex marriage to happen in British Antarctic Territory. 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." Captain Will Whatley, who performed the ceremony, said it was "such an honor" to officiate the wedding for the couple.
"It was such an honor to be officiating Eric and Steve's wedding. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day. I am very proud of the inclusive culture within the British Antarctic Survey and across the Polar Regions. I am thrilled for them both and wish them all the very best," he said. According to the press release, Bourne and Carpenter's historic nuptials marks the second marriage between members of BAS staff since 2016, when the BAT marriage law was reformed, making it easier for marriages to be arranged in the territory and also updating the relevant paperwork for same-sex marriages.
According to CBS News, the reformed law that allows legal marriages in the territory mirrors that of England and Wales, thereby allowing all couples—including same-sex couples—to apply for a marriage license. As for Bourne and Carpenter, who first met while working aboard RFA Sir Percivale before being deployed in the last Gulf war, they will have a reception with all of the approximately 100 staffers of the Rothera Research Station, the largest British Antarctic facility, when the ship returns for its final call on May 8. The couple will also celebrate with friends and family in Spain later this year, the BAS said.