Austria Celebrates First Legal Same-Sex Marriage as Two Women Wed

The couple had been engaged for four years

Updated 01/03/19

HERBERT NEUBAUER

It's yet another win for love: Austria just joined a dozen of other European countries—including France, Spain, Germany and Ireland—in legalizing same-sex marriages. Austria, which is a predominantly Catholic nation, surprised the world by allowing it's first ever same-sex wedding between two women.

On Tuesday, Austrian couple Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier, both 37, tied the knot in a wedding ceremony in Velden in southern Austria. The two were engaged for four years before marrying on January 1, when Austria's highest court ruled that banning same-sex couples from marriage was discriminatory.

“Today, the differentiation between marriage and legally registered partnerships can no longer be upheld without discriminating against same-sex couples,” the court said, according to the New York Times. “For the separation into two legal institutions implies that homosexual individuals are not equal to heterosexuals.”

The court added that same-sex couples have been granted rights like adoption and fertility treatments—the same that heterosexual couples have. This meant that the only aspect stopping these couples from marrying was their sexual orientation.

This new law makes Austria the 16th European nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The Netherlands were the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. Prior to Austria, Germany was the most recent nation to change its law, which it passed in October 2018.

Helmut Graupner, the lawyer who represented the newlywed couple during the court case, told the Times, “Today is a truly historic day.”

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