The office of Germany's president said
Friday that he had signed a bill into law that legalizes same-sex
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier
signed the legislation on Thursday, his office said, paving the way
for the legislation to take effect as early as October 1.
The bill, which makes Germany the 14th
European country to approve same-sex marriage, passed with a 393 to
226 vote, with four abstentions, during the German parliament's last
session before Germans head to the polls in September.
The opportunity to move on the issue
appeared when Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that she would
support a free vote on the issue among her party members.
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.
Merkel reiterates opposition to gay marriage.)
According to a poll released in April
and commissioned by German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag,
75 percent of Germans support same sex marriage, while 20 percent
remain opposed. A survey by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Bureau
released in January found higher support, with 83 percent of
respondents saying marriage between two people of the same sex should
Since 2001, Germany has recognized gay
and lesbian couples with civil partnerships. The union, however,
lacks some of the benefits enjoyed by married couples, such as being
able to adopt children together.