German parliament votes to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

German lawmakers have voted to legalize same-sex marriage in a snap vote only days after Chancellor Angela Merkel changed her longstanding position.

Lawmakers voted 393 for legalizing ``marriage for everybody'' and 226 against with 4 abstentions.

Merkel herself voted against the measure, but paved the way for Friday's vote after saying Monday that 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 it.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001, but same-sex marriages remain illegal.

All of Merkel's potential coalition partners after the Sept. 24 election, including the centre-left Social Democrats of her challenger for the Chancellorship, Martin Schulz, had long been calling for same-sex marriage to be legalized.