The German parliament, or Bundestag,
has approved a bill that extends marriage to gay and lesbian couples,
making Germany the 14th European country to do so.
According to Deutsche Welle, the
bill passed with a 393 to 226 vote, with four abstentions.
“If the constitution guarantees one
thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,”
Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary leader of the opposition Social
Democrats, is quoted by The New York Times as telling
colleagues. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive
something, but nobody will have something taken away.”
The opportunity to move on the issue
appeared earlier this week when Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled
that she would support a free vote on the issue among her party
Merkel was under increasing pressure to
act on the issue from potential coalition partners that may emerge
from September's upcoming election. Merkel herself, however, voted
against the bill.
Since 2001, Germany has recognized gay
and lesbian couples with civil partnerships.