September 16, 2006
Yesterday marked an historic milestone in Spain. Two male soldiers were married in a civil ceremony presided over by the mayor of Seville. According to the Associated Press, “the Defense Ministry has said it considers the wedding a personal matter and the men will be allowed to continue with their careers.”
The Spanish military’s response makes sense. As documented in several reports by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at UC Santa Barbara, openly gay and lesbian personnel have been successfully integrated into the militaries of England, Canada, Australia, and other countries without major problems. Similar conclusions were reached in a 1993 study by the RAND Corporation.
The wedding in Spain is a reminder that a national government can successfully grant equal marriage rights and allow sexual minorities to serve in its armed forces if it chooses to do so. The 4500 same-sex couples who have wed in Spain during the past year don’t pose a threat to the marriages of heterosexual Spaniards, And although some of the newly wedded soldiers’ comrades in arms might not like the fact that they’re married (or gay), their personal disapproval won’t make the Spanish military less able to accomplish its mission.