Germany, latest haven for Gay couples

Germany joined nearly two dozen governments around the world that have introduced legislation allowing gays and lesbians to marry on Friday by legalizing same-marriage.

This comes days after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would allow her conservative lawmakers to follow their conscience in the vote.

The German legal code was changed to say “marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex”, in the bill that was strongly supported by leftist parties.

The reform grants full marital rights, including child adoption, to gay and lesbian couples, who in Germany have been allowed since 2001 to enter so-called civil unions.

The lower house passed the bill by a margin of 393-226. The upper house has already approved it, and the measure is expected to enter into force before the end of the year.

The election-year bill was pushed by Merkel’s leftist rivals who pounced on a U-turn she made in an on-stage interview on Monday. The manoeuvre left many of her conservative lawmakers fuming.

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Merkel, who voted against the winning bill said marriage should be between a man and a woman. She however, hoped that the parliament’s approval would lead to more social cohesion.

“For me, marriage in the Basic Law is marriage between a man and a woman and that is why I did not vote in favour of this bill today,” she told reporters moments after the vote.

While fielding questions from newsmen, Merkel said, “I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace.”

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