A van reading “marriage for all” stands outside the German Parliament prior to a session where the German Parliament votes on legalizing same-sex marriages in Berlin, Germany, 30 June. (Clemens Bilan/EPA)

BERLIN — Germany on Friday recognized the right of same-sex couples to wed, a major step for gay women and men living in a country split between conservative, Christian customs and modernizing forces.

The German Parliament voted 393-226 to modify the country’s civil code, reshaping the institution of marriage with little fanfare but enormous significance as Germany prepares to join much of the Western world in codifying marriage equality.

English: A woman makes her support of her marr...
English: A woman makes her support of her marriage, and not civil unions, known outside the Mormon temple at New York City’s Lincoln Center. Photographer’s blog post about this photo and the protest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since 2001, Germany has allowed civil partnerships, which afford many of the same benefits accruing to married couples, with the notable exception of the right to joint adoption.

“It’s a joyous turning-point,” said Volker Beck, who has campaigned for gay rights for decades, as a spokesman for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany before he entered Parliament as a member of the Green Party. “Equality and civil rights have been achieved.”

For some, the surprise was only how long it took, in a country often seen as a progressive model for the region. Notable, also, was how quickly the matter moved forward once it was brought up this week.

At the same time, some conservative lawmakers said constitutional change was required, meaning the debate may not be fully settled. But Heiko Maas, the justice minister, told a public broadcaster this was “not absolutely necessary.”

Source: Washingtonpost.com