Parliamentarians react to 'historic' vote in favor of gay marriage

Three kilometres south on Nollendorfplatz, the capital's traditional gay neighbourhood, crowds cheered the vote putting Germany on course to become the 14th European Union country where same sex couples can Wednesday.

Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) celebrated a vote by the Bundestag, the lower house of Germany's parliament, to make marriage equality the law of the land.

After a short vote on Friday, Germany's Parliament voted to approve same-sex marriage, paving the way for marriage equality in Germany, the New York Times reported on Friday.

Landmark vote comes after Chancellor Angela Merkel changes her mind and tells party members to follow their conscience.

The gay marriage bill, a last-minute addition in parliament's last session before the summer break, was backed by nearly every party in the lower house.

As well as Ireland, countries such as France, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom allow same-sex marriage. Confetti guns were set off around Volker Beck, a Green Party member of parliament who is retiring this fall.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she voted against same-sex marriage because she believes the country's law sees it as between a man and a woman, but that the opposite view must be respected.

Following the vote, Merkel said Friday she had shown a red card and voted no; however, she mentioned it was only fair and important to put the issue to a vote of conscience, according to CNN. But she also said she hoped the passing of the bill would lead to more "social cohesion and peace". But speaking on June 26, the chancellor said she was open to the practice. That means that marriage equality will soon become a reality in Germany.The move was long overdue.

Among those celebrating from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was Soeren Landmann of the "Marriage for All" initiative.

Since 2001, Germany has allowed same-sex couples to register civil partnerships, which afford some but not all of the benefits accruing to married couples.

The vote marks a rare victory for Ms Merkel's Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners, who are trailing the conservatives in opinion polls.

The SPD has several government ministers in office as part of its grand coalition agreement with Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, but broke ranks with the CDU in order to push for Friday's vote, sparking criticism from several conservative lawmakers. Merkel, who faces competition for the role of Chancellor, softened her traditional marriage stance and her Social Democrat opponent, Martin Schulz, immediately advocated for a quick vote before the break.

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