Germany Opens Way for Homosexual Marriages

Law Still Faces Constitutional Test

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KARLSRUHE, Germany, JULY 19, 2001 ( Germany´s top court cleared the way for the introduction of same-sex marriages when it dismissed efforts by two regional states to block a new law, Reuters reported.

Starting next month, homosexual couples in Germany will be able to wed in registry offices and share a common surname.

The constitutional court in Karlsruhe dismissed appeals by the states of Bavaria and Saxony to block the law, court officials said Wednesday.

The two states said the law, which has already passed through Parliament, was an attack on traditional family values.

Under it, homosexual couples will be entitled to the same inheritance rights as heterosexual couples and foreign partners of German homosexuals will be allowed to join them in Germany. The ruling Social Democrats and their junior coalition partners, the Greens, backed the law.

The law will come into force although the constitutional court still has to give a final decision on whether the law contravenes the German Constitution. A decision is expected next year.

Last Friday, in the United States, Missouri Governor Bob Holden signed into law a bill restoring the state´s ban on same-sex marriages. The new law also refuses to recognize same-sex marriage ceremonies performed out of state.

Missouri became the 35th state to ban same-sex marriage. Only Vermont gives same-sex couples the rights of married heterosexual couples.

In 1996, Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan signed a bill banning same-sex marriages. But the law was invalidated when a court ruled the bill dealt with too many other unrelated subjects.

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