Hundreds of couples across Germany rushed to exchange vows and rings on Sunday as the country’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage went into effect.

Cities across the country opened their marriage registry offices on Sunday, outside of normal business hours, to allow for the marriages to take place, according to the BBC.

The status of being legally married will allow gay couples the same treatment — including tax advantages and adoption rights — under German law that straight couples currently enjoy.

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The vote to legalize marriage happened in June, shortly after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she was no longer opposed to the country having a vote on the issue, the BBC noted.

The law will affect an estimated 94,000 couples, according to the German news website The Local. Germany is the 15th European nation to legalize gay marriage — the Netherlands was the first, in 2000.

"Marriage for all is a milestone on the path to full legal and social equality," Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller said Friday, praising those "who fought for many years" to get to this day.

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In Berlin, Bodo Mende, 60, and his partner of 38 years, Karl Kreile, 59, became the first couple to marry in Germany’s capital Sunday.

Kreile told the Associated Press that he and Mende had been campaigning for marriage equality for decades and that it was an "incredible honor" to be the first same-sex couple to marry in Germany.


Demand Equity

Hundreds of Couples Wed as Germany Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

By Colleen Curry