German lawmakers voted by a wide margin to legalize same-sex marriage on Friday, just a week after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to letting parliament consider the matter.
Gay couples in Germany have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships since 2001, but could not marry or jointly adopt children. The German parliament voted 393-226 to legalize same-sex marriage, and according to CNN, the bill is expected to pass in the Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house, next week.
For years polls have shown most Germans support same-sex marriage, but Merkel’s party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union, was among those opposed to the issue. Recently, several left-leaning parties let it be known that they would not form a coalition with CDU after September’s general election if it remained opposed to “Ehe für alle” (marriage for all).
Merkel shifted her stance, saying on Monday at an event hosted by a women’s magazine that she’d like to see a vote on same-sex marriage that is “a question of conscience,” meaning members would not be pushed to vote along party lines. From there the vote was scheduled quickly, taking place on the last day before the summer recess, and the start of campaigning in the fall.
Merkel, the daughter of a Protestant pastor, said she voted against the bill. “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. “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.”
Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party, one of the groups that pushed for legalization of same-sex marriage, tweeted that the vote meant “progress is possible.”
The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, and several other European nations have embraced marriage equality, including Spain, France, and the U.K.