Two German men made history Sunday by saying “I do ” and becoming the first same – sex couple to marry after decades of struggle , but campaigners say the battle for equal rights isn’ t over .
Wedding bells were to ring out in Berlin , Hamburg , Hanover and other German cities where local authorities have exceptionally opened their doors on a Sunday, allowing weddings on the day the law comes into effect .
Bodo Mende, 60 , and partner Karl Kreile, 59 , exchanged their vows at a desk decked out with white flowers and rainbow flags .
Then, they turned to offer a shot of their first embrace as a married couple to the throng of photographers and TV crews from around the world who packed the south Berlin registry office alongside their friends and family.
“I ’m unbelievably satisfied , this is extremely symbolic to be recognised as a completely normal couple and no longer to have a second – class marriage,” Kreile said after the two cut a slice of rainbow cake .
Mende and Kreile , longtime gay marriage campaigners who have been together since 1979 , wanted to tie the knot as soon as possible — after being among the first to enter a civil partnership back in 2002 .
“This is a day we can really call historic ,” Angelika Schoettler , mayor of the capital ’s Tempelhof -Schoeneberg district , told the pair .
“I hope a great many couples will seal a bond for life in this room , or others like it. ”