The German Parliament has voted 393-226 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and the bill now heads to the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house, where it is expected to pass. A recent poll found that two-thirds of Germans support legalizing same-sex marriage.
The Parliament’s move came just days after German chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her longstanding opposition to holding a free vote on the matter. Chancellor Merkel opposes same-sex marriage on claims of religious grounds, but has previously stated that she understood the significance of same-sex marriage in relation to adoption and children’s wellbeing.
Since 2001, same-sex couples in Germany have been able to enter into civil unions, but have not been able to receive the same benefits as married couples. Notably, same-sex couples with civil unions are not allowed to file joint tax returns, and do not receive the same preferential treatment as heterosexual couples in adoption procedures.
The vote was a significant win for gay rights activists in Germany, including groups such as The Gay and Lesbian Association, which has been pushing for same-sex marriage legalization since 1990. After Friday’s vote, The Gay and Lesbian Association celebrated the vote by announcing “This is a historic day! Not only for lesbians and gays, but for a more just and democratic society.”
But members of the progressive party caution that marriage equality could still be contested before Germany’s Constitutional Court, as some conservatives argue that such a measure would require an amendment to the country’s Constitution.
Media Resources: The Guardian 6/30/17, 6/30/17; CNN 6/30/17