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German Evangelical Protestant Church performs first gay church wedding

German Evangelical Protestant Church performs first gay church wedding

The German Evangelical Protestant Church held its first same-sex wedding over the weekend according to reports in local media.

The couple, Ruediger and Christoph Zimmermann, tied the knot in Seligenstadt near Frankfurt, Hessian state public radio reported.

Germany does not yet recognize same-sex marriage so the ceremony will not change their legal status but the couple were already in a civil union.

In June the German Evangelical Protestant Church said it would start celebrating same-sex marriages and adding them to the church register.

Previously German Evangelical Protestants had blessed same-sex couples but not joined them in marriage.

Germany has allowed civil unions for same-sex couples since 2001 and are granted similar rights to heterosexual couples except in adoption and tax law.

However Germany’s highest court ordered tax equality for gay couples in February.

The German Evangelical Protestant Church’s move to celebrate non-heterosexual and non-married unions was criticized by the Catholic Church in Germany after it released the document, ‘Between autonomy and dependence – strengthening family as a reliable community,’ explaining the changes in June.

German Protestant Evangelical Church Council chairman Nikolaus Schneider said in announcing the document that while it still held ‘the marriage of man and woman with children,’ as the ideal model for a family, commitment to one another, equality and mutual care were more important in determening what was a worthwhile relationship.

Schneider pointed out that for the Protestant Church in Germany, marriage was ‘a worldly thing’ rather than a religious sacrament.

Central Committee of German Catholics president Alois Glück attacked the Protestants decision to put other relationships on an equal footing with married heterosexuals, saying that the church’s move sent the message that ‘everything is possible and somehow equal.’

In February the German Government announced it would consider extending more rights to same-sex couples following a court ruling but US President Barack Obama called on Germany to give gay couples full equality during a visit in June.