German president OKs gay marriage law, takes effect in fall

July 21, 2017
CORRECTS TO GERMAN PRESIDENT SIGNED LEGISLATION THURSDAY JULY 20, 2017 - FILE - In this June 30, 2017 file photo, men with rainbow flags stand in front of the Brandenburg Gate at an event organized by the Social Democrats to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage in Berlin. Germany’s president has signed legislation Thursday July 20, 2017 legalizing gay marriage, paving the way for it to take effect this fall.Lawmakers approved the bill on June 30 in its last session before Germany’s September election. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP,file)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s president has signed legislation legalizing gay marriage, his office said Friday, paving the way for the bill to take effect this fall.

Lawmakers approved the bill on June 30 in parliament’s last session before Germany’s September election. The move became possible after Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose conservative party had long been reluctant to budge on the issue, said she would allow its lawmakers to vote according to their conscience.

The presidential office said President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed the legislation on Thursday. That means it will come into force Oct. 1 at the earliest.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but until now has not granted them full marital rights including the possibility of jointly adopting children. The change brings it into line with many other western European countries.

“Marriage is a question of love and responsibility and not of gender,” Katarina Barley, the minister for families, said.

Barley, whose center-left party pushed for legalizing same-sex marriage, said that “marriage for everyone makes Germany a more modern country.”

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