Photo by Omer Messinger/NurPhoto via Getty Images

One couple had been together for 38 years.

Jess McHugh
October 02, 2017

A couple from Germany celebrated the first same-sex marriage since the nation voted to legalize marriage equality in June.

Karl Kreile and Bodo Mende, a long-time couple who campaigned for LGBT rights throughout their lives, celebrated the first marriage at a town hall in Berlin, Associated Press reported. The couple has been together for 38 years, and they celebrated with a reception and a rainbow cake before they head off to their honeymoon in Vienna.

“This is an emotional moment with great symbolism,” Kreile told journalists before the event, The New York Tmes reported. “The transition to the term ‘marriage’ shows that the German state recognizes us as real equals.”

Other couples throughout the country visited their local town halls, which opened on Sunday to specially mark the occasion.

German Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in June in a vote that passed with 393 for and 226 against. Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against legalizing marriage equality.

"For me, marriage in the Basic Law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favor of this bill today," she told reporters at the time of the vote, adding, "I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace."

Germany has had civil unions since 2001, but they did not include the same legal rights as marriages. Under the new law, for instance, LGBT couples will now be able to adopt children. The vote that passed in June made Germany the 15th European country to legalize same-sex marriage.

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