Germany hails Obama's 'courageous' gay marriage stance
Germany's openly gay foreign minister on Thursday hailed US President Barack Obama's decision to back same-sex marriage as a "courageous step".
"I welcome this not only personally but also in the name of the German government," said Guido Westerwelle, who entered into a registered life partnership with his longtime companion, sports executive Michael Mronz, in September 2010.
"This corresponds with the policy that we as a government and with a great majority in parliament pursue."
Germany introduced "registered partnerships" for same-sex couples in 2001 but stopped short of granting them the full rights and privileges afforded to married couples.
The country is currently debating new measures that would put gay and lesbian registered partnerships on a more equal legal footing.
But the constitution, known as the Basic Law, reserves a special status for marriage between men and women.
Westerwelle is said to be the world's first foreign minister who has openly declared his homosexuality.
In an interview on Wednesday, Obama abandoned his earlier position that he was "evolving" on gay marriage to come out in full support of marriage equality.
The stance is risky ahead of the presidential election in November as the sudden injection of a divisive moral-social question could hit Obama's prospects in battleground states that he needs to win.
© 2012 AFP