German MPs vote to legalise same-sex marriage

German leader hits out at 'isolationism'

The bill won a clear majority after Chancellor Angela Merkel - who argued marriage was between a man and a woman - dropped her opposition to allow German members of parliament to vote.

And if we look closely, lifting the obligation to toe the party line in a vote is not an explicit endorsement of equality, let alone the active crafting of policy.

German lawmakers celebrate the passing of same-sex marriage. "I think (Merkel) said it on Monday and today is Friday and we have a new law".

"I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between the different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace", Merkel said.

A survey by pollster INSA for daily Bild showed this week that three quarters of Germans favored the legalization of same-sex marriage. "I'm glad they finally voted".

MPs in parliament voted to legalise the measure by 393 votes to 226.

Ulrich said the change would mean allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, and to be able simply declare themselves married, rather than "in a partnership", thus avoiding having to disclose their sexual orientation to anyone they didn't want to.

Germany now joins 13 other European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland, which already have same-sex marriage laws in place.

That's because the vote wasn't even on the docket until earlier this week when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to the vote, saying she would allow her party members - the Christian Democrats (CDU) - to vote their conscience.

But those who voted against same-sex marriage on Friday, including Dr Merkel, pointed to the most court's most recent, narrower, definition of marriage from 2002. Marriage equality has always been accorded to populations in many Western European countries, with the Netherlands and Belgium leading the charge.

The daughter of a Protestant pastor, Merkel has long sided with the right of her party on the issue. Her main challenger for the chancellorship, Social Democrat leader Martin Schulz, has long criticized her for her stance on same-sex marriage.

Both the occurrence and the timing of the vote came as a surprise, as Bundestag voted on it just a day before the summer break and months before the upcoming September election.

Germany has erupted in jubilant celebration as the country's government voted in favour of same sex marriage.

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