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Germany Has Legalized Gay Marriage

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 will allow same-sex couples to marry and jointly adopt children. It passed by 393 votes to 226, with four abstentions.
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 poll.
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.”
The vote was welcomed by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe, which suggested same-sex couples could be able to marry by the end of the year. “After years of waiting and hoping, rainbow families in Germany will now receive equal recognition under the law — this is a historic milestone that can inspire even more change for LGBTI people,” said ILGA-Europe executive director Evelyne Paradis.
The vote caps a turbulent week in German politics. Facing pressure on the issue from the leaders of other political parties, Merkel announced Monday that she would like to see parliament move towards a “vote of conscience” on same-sex marriage, kicking off a chain of events that culminated in Friday’s vote. The Chancellor made the comment at an event in Berlin hosted by women’s magazine Brigitte, where she was asked by a gay man in the audience whether he would be able to refer to his partner as “my husband.”
But with September’s election looming, Merkel has come under increasing pressure, with her main rivals and potential coalition partners announcing support for “Ehe für alle” (marriage for all). Friday was the last chance for parliament to vote on the issue before it breaks for the summer recess and election campaigning begins in earnest. The result was welcomed by many of the country’s liberal politicians on Twitter.
By legalizing gay marriage, Germany follows the path of many of its European neighbors, as well as countries around the world. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. More than 20 other nations have followed suit, including Spain, Canada, Argentina, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Written by Jimmyjay in June 30, 2017
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