Germany passes landmark law to legalize gay marriage
Germany has joined the league of over 20 nations that have legalized gay marriages. German lawmakers voted by a large margin, 393-226, to pass the landmark law. The bill allows homosexual couples to legally marry and adopt children. It is expected to be cleared by the Bundesrat, the upper house, next week. In a recent YouGov poll, two-thirds of Germans supported same-sex marriage.
After agreeing to a free vote, Merkel votes no
The historic moment came just a few days after Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to a free vote on the issue, a "vote of conscience", despite her party's opposition to gay marriage. A free vote essentially means lawmakers can vote individually irrespective of their party's opinion. Unsurprisingly, she voted no. "For me and basic law, it's about the marriage of a woman and a man."
Opposition parties join hands to cheer the historic moment
Most quarters cheered the move. "Today, our country is freer, more tolerant, more modern," said FDP leader Christian Lindner. Green Party leader Cem Özdemir said the bill "doesn't take away anything, gives everything." "Now is the time for more courage," said Katja Kipping, chairwoman of Die Linke party "Congratulations to all gay couples who have been waiting to get married!" tweeted the Foreign Office.
Will this move work wonders for Merkel ahead of elections?
Amid a turbulent week in German politics, Merkel's been under pressure to solidify her standing ahead of September elections. The FDP and Green Party had ruled out coalition with Merkel's CDU unless it supports "Ehe für alle" (marriage for all). However, Anja Neundorf, Nottingham University associate professor, said this move might erode her popularity among the conservative, traditional supporters of CSU, CDU's sister party.
In which countries is gay marriage legal?
The Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. More than 20 have followed since then, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the UK and the US.