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.
Parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a snap vote Friday. Lawmakers voted 393 for legalizing “marriage for everybody” and 226 against with 4 abstentions. Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remained illegal.
Bringing the measure to a vote in Friday’s session, the last before September elections, was fast-tracked after Merkel said Monday lawmakers could take up the issue as a “question of conscience,” freeing members of her conservative coalition, which has been against same-sex marriage, to individually vote for the measure.
She says “for me marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman” but she continues to see the interpretation as a “decision of conscience.”
All of Merkel’s potential coalition partners after the September 4 election, including the center-left Social Democrats of her challenger, Martin Schulz, have been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.
The measure, which is expected to see legal challenges, also opens the door for gay couples to adopt — which Merkel says she supports.
Archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, said he “regretted” the parliament “gave up the essential content of marriage” in passing the new law. The archbishop heads the family life committee for the German bishops’ conference.
In a statement, he lamented the abandonment of “a differentiated perception of different forms of partnership,” adding that “differentiation is not discrimination.”
Koch also said “marriage did not deserve” to be caught “in the wheels of political tactics,” referring to the snap vote on the issue.
He concluded his statement by saying the bishops will now intensify their efforts to promote “the vitality of the Catholic understanding of marriage,” which he affirmed would be unaffected by the decision in parliament.
Crux staff contributed to this report.