The NYTimes has reported lawmakers in Germany voted Friday, June 30 to allow same-sex marriage. The newspaper noted the approval came after a brisk but emotional debate in Parliament, setting the stage for the country to join more than a dozen European nations — including Ireland, France and Spain — in legalizing such unions.
Reportedly the historic decision came with “a swiftness rare in Germany’s usually staid politics, after Chancellor Angela Merkel unexpectedly eased her conservative party’s opposition to gay marriage and said she would allow deputies to vote their conscience,” the NYTimes’ Alison Smale and David Shimer wrote. “That paved the way for her coalition partners in the Social Democrats and two other parties to press for Friday’s vote, which passed 393 to 226, with four abstentions.”
“If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,” Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, said in opening the floor debate. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away.”
Reportedly the chancellor explained her stance in a two-minute statement after the vote, saying that she had come to support the right of same-sex couples to adopt but maintained her view that marriage remained a union between a man and a woman.“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,” Merkel is reported to have said.
The measure now goes to the upper house of Parliament for formal approval and then requires the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meaning Germany’s first same-sex marriages are on track to be celebrated in the early fall.
The NYTimes noted since 2001, same-sex couples in Germany have been able to live together in civil unions, and opinion polls have shown for years that most Germans favor legalizing same-sex marriage, but conservatives had consistently blocked the issue from coming to a vote in Parliament.