German lawmakers voted by a wide margin to legalize same-sex marriage Friday, a landmark decision which came just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her longstanding opposition to a free vote on the issue.
The bill gives homosexual couples in Germany the same rights as heterosexual couples, and will allow same-sex couples to marry and jointly adopt children. It passed by 393 votes to 226, with four abstentions.
The bill is likely to pass through the Bundesrat — Germany’s upper house — next week. The Bundesrat has previously approved legalizing same-sex marriage.
After the 393 to 226 vote, Merkel announced that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, but she hopes the decision will lead to “social cohesion and peace.”
According to a recent survey taken by a German government agency, 83 percent of Germans are in favor of marriage equality.
The measure now goes to the upper house of Parliament for formal approval and then requires the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Once signed into law, Germany’s first same-sex marriages will be on track to be celebrated in the early fall, according to The New York Times.