Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

German President OKs Gay Marriage Law, Which Takes Effect in Fall

/ Source: Associated Press
Two gay men get married at the civil registry office in Munich, Germany, on July 10.MARC MUELLER / EPA

BERLIN — 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.

A rainbow flag flutters on the city hall of Berlin's Schoeneberg district on June 30, 2017.ODD ANDERSEN / AFP - Getty Images

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."

Follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.