Armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt has ordered the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to explore the possibility of using military bases for civil marriages, including same sex weddings.
The 190 chapels on military bases across the UK are staffed by chaplains from a variety of Christian denominations. However, 12 of these, including the Anglican Church, refuse to conduct same sex marriages
Last year the Tory MP and Royal Navy reservist said she had begun consulting army chaplains on ways to make same sex marriage fully accessible to members of the armed forces.
This week, asked about progress, she announced a pilot scheme in which some Ministry of Defence sites would be registered for the conduct of civil marriages, noting:
“…this includes same-sex unions.”
Campaign organisation Stonewall hailed the project. A spokesperson said:
“It’s great to hear that same-sex marriages will soon take place at Ministry of Defence sites and we hope to see this rolled out across all military bases.”
“For lesbian, gay and bi service people this move by the Ministry of Defence sends an important message – that the armed forces are not only inclusive, but want to play a significant role in celebrating same-sex partnerships.”
The Army, Navy and Air Force have overcome a reputation for hostility to gay rights and are now considered amongst the most progressive employers in the UK.
Photo of British solider by U.S. Army Europe Images via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence