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Wedding bells ring for same-sex couples in Switzerland as marriage equality takes effect

Two women embracing after their marriage ceremony
Laura Suarez, left, and Annett Babinsky celebrate their marriage in Zurich on Friday, the first day same-sex marriage was allowed in Switzerland.
(Ennio Leanza / Keystone)

With some saying better late than never, lesbian and gay couples in Switzerland rejoiced as they legally tied the knot Friday, when the nation joined many others in Western Europe in formally
allowing same-sex marriage.

The first same-sex weddings took place nine months after 64.1% of voters backed the “Marriage for All” law in a national referendum.

The measure puts same-sex partners on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples, including allowing them to adopt children and to sponsor a spouse for citizenship.

Switzerland authorized same-sex civil partnerships in 2007.

Friends and relatives greeted Aline and Laure — who asked that their surnames not be published — with hugs, cheers, applause and joyful tears at a Geneva manor house, where they
exchanged vows to formalize their two-decade relationship.

“It’s great joy, a super moment to put in the history books,” said Laure, 45, a human resources executive, adding that July 1 holds special importance because it’s the 19th anniversary of their civil union.

“It’s normality that’s taking effect. It’s going to become commonplace, let’s say, whether it’s two women, two men or heterosexual couples to marry,” Laure said.

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade is causing some anxiety for people in same-sex marriages, particularly those with children.

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Holding Laure’s hand, Aline said: “It’s true that Switzerland has been a little slow. It’s not a moment too soon, after all. Now’s the time.”

With a population of 8.5 million, traditionally conservative Switzerland was until Friday among a few Western European nations that did not recognize same-sex marriages. Greece, Italy and the microstates of Andorra, Monaco and San Marino still allow only opposite-sex couples to marry.

Most countries in Central and Eastern Europe do not allow same-sex marriage.


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