It's now official. In a snap vote on Friday, Germany voted to legalize same-sex marriage, marking June 30, 2017 as a historic day for the European nation. In fact, it was just less than a week prior that Germany's own chancellor had a change of heart on the matter, though she ultimately ended up voting against the issue. The final vote was 393-226, with four abstentions.
On Monday, referring to the legalization of same-sex marriage, Angela Merkel said, "I would like to lead the discussion more into a situation where it is a question of conscience, rather than something I push through with a majority vote." Over the past weekend, according to The New York Times, Merkel's coalition partners announced that their support of her would be contingent upon whether or not a vote on same-sex marriage is held before the September elections. It was enough to get the ball rolling just days later.
Same-sex marriage has been a contentious issue for Merkel over the years. Though the public strongly supports it, Merkel's own conservative party, the Christian Democratic Union, prioritizes "Christian" and "family" values that oppose the union between anyone but a man and a woman. But those socially conservative views had been falling more and more out-of-touch with public opinion.
Between October and November, Germany's Anti-Discrimination Agency surveyed about 2,000 people, and 83 percent of them supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. According to a separate YouGov poll, about two-thirds — still a large majority — of the country's population was in favor of legalizing it. And though same-sex marriage wasn't legal prior to Friday's vote, Germany has recognized same-sex civil unions since 2001. Still, it took over 15 years for the country's parliament to take another progressive step forward.
The Lesben-und Schwulenverband, a prominent campaigning organization in Germany, released a statement following the vote on Friday:
The LSVD welcomes the fact that after 15 years of an ideological blockade Mrs. Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union are ready to make some progress on the issue of same-sex marriage. Equal rights for all people are a requirement of our basic law. ... We want to live in a country where lesbians and gay men are no longer discriminated against.
Germany will join numerous European neighbor nations who have already legalized same-sex marriage. They include Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
In addition to legalizing same-sex marriage, the law will also allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt children.