German lawmakers are one step closer to legalizing gay marriage. Parliament voted to allow it after only a short debate. The decision came after Chancellor Angela Merkel unexpectedly eased her parties stance on same-sex marriage.
The new legislation gives gay couples in Germany full marital rights and allows them to adopt children. Germany joins more than a dozen other European nations that have legalized same-sex unions.
After the 393 to 226 vote, Merkel announced that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman, but she hopes the decision will lead to "social cohesion and peace."
According to a recent survey taken by a German government agency, 83 percent of Germans are in favor of marriage equality.
The measure now goes to the upper house of Parliament for formal approval and then requires the signature of President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Once signed into law, Germany's first same-sex marriages will be on track to be celebrated in the early fall, according to The New York Times.