The German Parliament voted Friday to legally recognize same-sex marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel cleared the way for its approval with lawmakers, allowing them to “vote their conscience” on the measure.
Merkel voted against the measure herself, the New York Times reports, but in the end it didn’t matter—the measure passed 393 to 226 and was one of the last items of business to attend to before Parliament breaks for summer recess. Same-sex couples in Germany have been able to live together in civil unions since 2001 and most Germans approve of same-sex marriage being legal, but the roadblock has always been conservative lawmakers who have repeatedly prevented the issue from going to a vote.
After the vote on Friday, Merkel reportedly said that while she still believes marriage is between a man and a woman, she hoped that there can be a sort of “mutual respect” between those who fundamentally oppose gay marriage and those who don’t and “that a piece of social peace and togetherness could be created.”
The bill will make its way to the upper Parliament and will eventually head to the desk of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. If all goes according to plan, those who wish to enter a same-sex marriage in Germany should be able to do so in the fall.