Today, Bundesrat, Germany’s upper house, approved marriage equality and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signed it into law. The law could take effect as early as October 2017.
Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the conservative Christian Democrats, has been historically opposed to marriage equality, many individual legislators within the party do support it. Merkel indicated a possible shift in her viewpoint by opening a path forward for the vote. Her decision to allow the vote followed a move by her coalition partner, the Social Democrats, who announced their continued support for Merkel’s government would be contingent on her backing marriage equality.
Recent polling shows that 66 percent of Germans support full marriage equality. Germany has had same-sex civil unions since 2001, although those unions lacked the full dignity, legal protections and rights that come with marriage, including on adoption rights.
Earlier this month, Malta’s parliament voted almost unanimously to advance a marriage equality bill. This progress in Europe comes on the heels of a recent victory in Asia, where Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of marriage equality in May.