BERLIN — Gay marriage is set to become the law of the land in Germany after lawmakers voted in favor of legalization Friday, capping a hectic week that started with the item barely on the political agenda.
Of 623 votes cast, 393 people voted for the move, while 226 voted against. There were four abstentions in the so-called “marriage for all” vote.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who earlier this week pivoted in favor of a vote despite opposition within her conservative base, cast her vote against the move.
Speaking after the vote, Merkel said that the issue was “emotionally touching … for me personally,” but that she voted no because of her “basic belief” that “marriage is marriage between man and woman.”
The matter still has to be debated in the upper house Bundesrat before it can become law. However, no Bundesrat vote is required.
All parties that could form a coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) following the September election had said they would not partner with her unless there was a vote on the matter.
Despite the fact that 11 European Union countries allow same-sex marriage, Germany only recognizes civil partnerships between gay people.
The CDU and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, have continued to deny gay couples full marriage rights on religious grounds.
Merkel is campaigning for a fourth term in office in the September 24 election. Her CDU currently has a significant lead in the polls.
The issue gained renewed urgency when Merkel distanced herself from CDU opposition in an interview on Monday and said she would want a free vote, where legislators voted their conscience, unbound by party preferences.