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Germany Will Vote on Same-Sex Marriage as Early as Friday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 in 2008.
Flickr: Tim_24

On Monday, German chancellor Angela Merkel indicated a significant shift in her stance on same-sex marriage, paving the way for the German Parliament to vote on the issue as early as this Friday

Speaking at an event organized by women’s magazine Brigitte on Monday, Merkel — who has previously opposed gay marriage — opened up about an encounter with a lesbian couple who adopted eight children, which she says changed her mind about the issue. 

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“I had a life-changing experience in my home constituency,” Merkel said. “If the youth welfare service entrusts a lesbian couple with eight foster children, then the state could no longer use child welfare as an argument against adoptions.”

On Tuesday, Merkel said that she would allow members of her party to cast a “vote of conscience” on the issue rather than vote along party lines, the New York Times reported, paving the way for a parliamentary vote on the issue. 

Merkel’s announcement was met with some reservation from conservatives within her own party, but was lauded by members of other German parties — the Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). 

Although Merkel indicated she would prefer to hold a vote in September — after the country’s upcoming elections — in order to maximize time for debate, her main electoral opponent, SPD’s Martin Schulz, used Merkel’s announcement as an opportunity to push for a vote by the end of this week. 

“We will push through marriage equality in Germany. This week,” Schulz wrote in a tweet. 

It is high time Germany votes on same-sex marriage, and not just because the vote is slated for the last day of Pride month. 

As European countries from Portugal to Finland have made moves to legalize same sex marriage, Germany has stayed put — recognizing same-sex partnerships since 2001, but not going as far as to fully legalize same-sex marriage. 

This is despite the fact that a large majority of Germans support same-sex marriage. A study by Germany's Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency last year revealed that 83% of Germans are in favor of same-sex marriage. A slightly less optimistic YouGov poll from this May showed that 66% Germans were in favor of same-sex marriage, and 57% favored adoption by same-sex couples. 

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In the past, Merkel has objected to same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples on the grounds that she was concerned for “the well-being of the children,” the Guardian reports

Her newfound change of heart was met with positive reactions across social media channels, including from Stefan Kaufmann, an openly gay legislator from Merkel’s own party. 

“Thank you Angela Merkel!” Kaufmann wrote on Twitter. “How liberating!” 

If Germany does pass same-sex marriage Friday it would become the 23rd country worldwide to do so — leaving 173 still to do so.