CNN has reported that 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.
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.