Germany’s parliament has voted to legalize gay marriage days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote.
The reform grants gay couples now limited to civil unions full marital rights, and allows them to adopt children.
Angela Merkel’s political opponents were strongly in favor. However, the chancellor, who signaled her backing for a free vote only on June 26, voted against.
The bill was backed by 393 lawmakers, 226 voted against and four abstained.
According to the AFP, the German legal code will now read: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex.”
Following June 30 vote, Angela Merkel said that for her marriage was between a man and a woman. But she said she hoped the passing of the bill would lead to more “social cohesion and peace”.
During her 2013 election campaign, Angela Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare,” and admitted that she had a “hard time” with the issue.
However, in an on-stage interview with the women’s magazine Brigitte on June 26, Angela Merkel shocked the German media by saying, in response to an audience member’s question, that she had noted other parties’ support for gay marriage, and would allow a free vote at an unspecified time in the future.
Angela Merkel also said she had had a “life-changing experience” in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together.
As the news spread on Twitter, supporters rallied under the hashtag #EheFuerAlle (MarriageForAll) – and started calling for a vote as soon as possible.
Angela Merkel’s current coalition partners – the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), who are trailing her Christian Democrats (CDU) in opinion polls – then seized the political initiative.
They called for a vote by the time parliament went into summer recess at the end of the week – prompting Angela Merkel to complain she’d been “ambushed”.
A recent survey by the government’s anti-discrimination agency found that 83% of Germans were in favor of marriage equality.
The day after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalize gay marriage in May 2015, almost every German newspaper splashed a rainbow across its front page.