German parliament to vote on marriage equality today

Legislators in Germany will vote on a bill that would extend full equal marriage rights to same-sex couples later today, according to senior political leaders in the country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announced she no longer opposed same-sex marriage rights, sparking a mad dash among the progressive parties in the German Bundestag to get a marriage-equality bill to a vote before the legislature is dissolved next week ahead of a federal election in the fall. The move has left some in Ms. Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party upset, but it is expected that all German MPs will be able to vote with their confidence on the matter, allowing more conservative members of Merkel's party to register their discontent. Even with some CDU MPs voting against the measure, due to overwhelming support from the centrist FDP, socialist SDP, Green Party and far-left Linke Party, marriage equality is widely expected to become the law of the land in Germany.

That change will bring Germany's laws into line with public opinion: a YouGov survey this year found that 66% of German voters support legalizing same-sex marriage.

Same-sex couples in Germany have had most marriage rights since 2001, when civil unions were introduced in the country.  But some marriage rights, such as the right to adopt children, have not been available to same-sex couples.  It is that last point in particular that led the Chancellor to oppose full marriage equality until this week.  She said at an event in Berlin that it was a lesbian couple in her Baltic coast riding, who had fostered several children, who led her to a change of heart on the matter.