Friday, June 30, 2017

Germany's Parliament Approves Marriage Equality By Vote Of 393 - 226

Germany's lower chamber of Parliament, the Bundstag, approved a measure by a vote of 393 to 226 to legalize same-sex marriage.

The vote came suddenly after Chancellor Angela Merkel softened her stance on the issue to allow a legislator's to "vote their conscience" on this last day of the country's legislative session.

Merkel herself voted against the measure, saying after the vote, "For me and the basic law, it’s about the marriage of a woman and a man. That’s why I voted against it. I hope that the vote today shows not only the mutual respect for different opinions but that this also leads to more peace and social cohesion as well.”

More from the New York Times:

“If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,” Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, said in opening the floor debate. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away.”

“It’s very positive for the self-esteem of gays and lesbians; it’s very important for people coming out, knowing that they have this equality; and it sends a clear message to any homophobic refugees coming to Germany: We have equality here,” said Arnd B├Ąchler, a counselor and addiction therapist at Berlin’s gay counseling center.

Approval of same-sex marriage in Germany could build momentum for similar legislation in other German-speaking countries, like Austria and Switzerland, said Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director of ILGA-Europe, a gay and transgender rights group. She said the developments in Germany illustrated the difference that opposition parties could make.

The measure now goes to the upper house of Parliament, The Bundesrat, which has approved marriage equality before. The legislation will then be signed into law by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Polls show upwards of 80% of Germans support marriage equality.

Germany joins more than a dozen European countries that have approved same-sex marriage.

In 2001, Germany approved civil unions which conferred some but not all rights of marriage.

Conservatives in the country's government have blocked the issue from coming to a vote in Parliament.

Congratulations Germany!

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