Germany celebrates first same-sex wedding

Angela Merkel was long-opposed to same-sex marriage, but allowed a free vote earlier this year

Frank Jordans
Sunday 01 October 2017 12:08
Comments
Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende marry in Berlin, 1st October 2017
Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende marry in Berlin, 1st October 2017

Germany celebrated its first same-sex weddings Sunday, after a new law came into force putting gay and lesbian couples on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples.

Town halls in Berlin, Hamburg and elsewhere opened their doors to mark the event, made possible by a surprise vote in Parliament three months earlier.

"We're making a single exception to fire a symbolic starter pistol because same-sex marriages are possible from today," said Gordon Holland, a registrar in Berlin's Schoeneberg district.

Holland said it was appropriate for Schoeneberg to hold the first same-sex wedding in the country because it has long been a centre of gay life in the German capital.

About 60 guests and an equal number of journalists packed into Schoeneberg town hall's "Golden Room" to witness the marriage of Karl Kreile and his partner of 38 years, Bodo Mende.

The grooms entered the room to the popular "Wedding March" by 19th-century German composer Felix Mendelssohn, before saying their vows and signing the marriage documents to applause and cheers from the assembled guests.

Kreile, 59, said it was an "incredible honour" to be the first same-sex couple to marry in Germany, noting that he and Mende, 60, had been campaigning for gay rights for decades.

After cutting the wedding cake — featuring a rainbow flag and the words "marriage for all" — the couple planned to hold a small reception and fly to Vienna later in the week for a five-day honeymoon.

"We had a huge party 15 years ago that can't be topped," said Kreile, referring to the celebration after the couple registered their partnership in 2002.

Germany introduced registered partnerships in 2002, but those gave same-sex couples fewer rights than heterosexual couples who married.

Chancellor Angela Merkel long opposed same-sex marriages, only agreeing to a free vote in Parliament on the matter in June, shortly before national elections.

The bill, which enjoyed strong public support, passed by a wide margin, with 393 lawmakers voting in favor of marriage equality and 226 — including Merkel — voting against.

"This day sends a significant signal, which is that the state's discrimination of lesbians and gays is finished," said Joerg Steinert, who heads the Berlin branch of Germany's lesbian and gay association. "This was long overdue in Germany and so this is a day of great joy."

Some hurdles remain, including the fact that women can't automatically recognise motherhood of a lesbian partner's child, and the software used to record marriages doesn't currently allow for two entries with the same sex.

Still, those attending Sunday's ceremony in Schoeneberg said Germany's decision to allow same-sex marriages — the 23rd country worldwide to do so — was a big step.

"The state has recognized that if two people want to stand by each other then that's a marriage, regardless of their sex," said Ulrich Kessler, a guest who has known couple for more than 20 years.

According to official figures there were about 43,000 registered partnerships in Germany in 2015, most of which are expected to be converted into marriages in the coming months.

Associated Press

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in