Chancellor Merkel voted against the measure
German Members of Parliament have voted to legalize same-sex marriage, 393 to 226. The vote was taken after 40 minutes of emotional debate spattered with heated arguments. The debates mirrored a wider and decades-long argument concerning marriage equality.

The German Parliament witnessed unusually joyous scenes at the end of it all, as MPs from the Green Party tossed glittered confetti all over the chamber. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, voted against same-sex marriage, despite being instrumental in passing the law through inviting MPs to vote as per their conscience. Merkel's father was a Protestant pastor.

This move pushes Germany into the group of other European nations like Spain, Britain, and France who had earlier legalized same-sex marriages. The result was met by joyous celebrations outside the Bundestag. Gay activists with painted faces waved rainbow flags along with placards which extolled love and marriage for all.

For Germany, the outcome of the vote is significant. The country has a legacy of homophobia. Only in 2017, the German parliament consented to provide compensation to a large number of gay men (amounting to thousands) who were jailed as per a 19th-century legislation who described homosexuality as a crime. Incidentally, the same was favored by the Nazis who increased its scope. The law was ultimately scrapped in 1969 when West Germany decriminalized homosexuality.

This historic decision came swiftly by German standards. It was only five days after Chancellor Angela Merkel relaxed the opposition which came from her own party towards same-sex marriage. She permitted lawmakers to have a vote on the issue as per their consciences. Her soft stance paved the way for the coalition partners in Social Democratic Party and also in two political groups. The three pressed on a vote to take place on this measure. The vote was earlier blocked by Christian Democrats along with their conservative allies. The win of the progressives means that not only same-sex couples enjoy complete marital rights, they can also adopt children.

Axel Hochrein, a member of the board of Germany's Lesbian and Gay Federation, and who attended the parliamentary debate said, “This is perhaps part of her religious education. I think it is more honest of her than to say yes. In the end, she fought for a long time against it, and always argued it was in her feelings, and this was a feelings decision.” Other members of her party supported the measure, including Peter Altmaier and Ursula von der Leyen, Merkel’s chief of staff and defense minister respectively.

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