Following a swift but heated debate, German lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage, aligning itself with much of the Western world
German Chancellor Angela Merker softened her steadfast opposition to same-sex marriage and declared she would allow German lawmakers to vote “on their conscience” to pass the law, although she herself remained opposed to it.
The proposition will go on to be received by the upper house of Parliament for approval, and then will quire the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Most opinion polls revealed the majority of Germans favored legalizing same-sex marriage, and same-sex couples have been able to live together as of 2001 in civil unions. However, the conservative parties have repeatedly blocked the issue from being voted on in Parliament.
The groundbreaking decision could encourage the legalization of same-sex marriage in other German speaking countries like Austria and Switzerland.
Christine Luders, director of Germany’s anti-discrimination agency, stated about the newly-passed law: “I am certain that just a few years from now, as a society, we will look back on this decision on marriage equality and ask ourselves, ‘Why on earth did it take us so long?’
Chancellor Merkel speaks out about her change of heart
Chancellor Merkel’s decision allowed members of the Social Democratic Party and two other liberal groups to argue for Friday’s vote which passed 393 to 226.
Following the vote, Ms. Merkel made a brief statement in which she said: “I hope that with today’s vote, not only that mutual respect is there between the individual positions, but also that a piece of social peace and togetherness could be created.”
Ms. Merkel maintained her belief that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman, but had come to understand and support the right of same-sex couples to adopt.
“This is perhaps a part of her religious education,” Axel Hochrein, a member of the Lesbian & Gay Federation in Germany stated regarding Ms. Merkel’s uncharacteristic decision. “I think it is more honest of her than to say yes. In the end, she fought for a long time against it and always argued it was in her feelings, and this was a feelings decision. It’s her decision”.