German lawmakers voted by a wide margin to legalize same-sex marriage Friday, a landmark decision which came just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her longstanding opposition to a free vote on the issue.
The bill gives homosexual couples in Germany the same rights as heterosexual couples, and will allow same-sex couples to marry and jointly adopt children. It passed by 393 votes to 226, with four abstentions.
The bill is likely to pass through the Bundesrat — Germany’s upper house — next week. The Bundesrat has previously approved legalizing same-sex marriage.
Once it has been officially signed into law, Germany will enter the club of more than 20 countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
Two-thirds of Germans said they were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in a recent YouGov poll.
A crowd of same-sex marriage supporters who waited outside the parliament building as the vote was held cheered in celebration as the bill was passed, hailing a historic day for equal rights.
Merkel votes no
Speaking after the vote, Merkel said she had voted no on the issue, but that it had been important to put it to a vote of conscience.
“For me and the basic law, it’s about the marriage of a woman and a man. That’s why I voted against it,” she said, adding that it had been an emotional debate for many in parliament, including herself.
“I hope that the vote today shows not only the mutual respect for different opinions but that this also leads to more peace and social cohesion as well,” she said.
Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) — the second largest party in parliament — tweeted following the vote that “progress is possible” and said he was “happy for all the married couples to-be.”
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SOURCE: CNN, Judith Vonberg and Laura Smith-Spark