Lawmakers in Germany have voted to allow same-sex marriage

Two women kiss each other in parliament's public

Two women kiss each other in parliament's public

UPDATE: On the same day that Germany legalized same-sex marriage, the Texas Supreme Court-nine Republicans-gutted same-sex marriage.

Germany on Friday became the 23rd country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, after lawmakers passed a bill in a snap vote that was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel just four days ago.

Gay and lesbian activists waving rainbow flags cheered in joyful celebration Friday (June 30) as Germany's parliament legalised same-sex marriage, a victory in a decades-old rights struggle.

She said she favoured an eventual vote when all lawmakers could follow their conscience rather than a party line.

Jan-Marco Luczak, who belongs to Merkel's Christian Democrat party, urged his fellow party members to vote for same-sex marriage.

Civil marriages are legally recognised in Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland.

Merkel surrounded by microphones and journalists in parliament's canteen

However, former members of her conservative party who objected to her open-door policy to asylum seekers accused her of betraying principles for political advantage, while some of her opponents see her capitulation as a sign of her weakening in leadership.

The bill was widely supported by all parties, barring Merkel's.

Still, though Merkel was expected to vote for the bill considering her recent change of position, she was one of the few to vote against it in a symbolic gesture.

"I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between the different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace", she said. 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. "It made the absence of same-sex marriage in Germany that much more glaring".

Earlier this year, Parliament agreed to grant compensation to thousands of gay men jailed under a 19th century law that was strengthened by the Nazis and only dropped in 1969 when homosexuality was decriminalised in West Germany.

"On the grounds of conscience, I will not support anything that allows marriage except for man and woman", said CDU group leader Volker Kauder, and explained that civil partnerships were sufficient and didn't discriminate.

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