The German Parliament is slated to vote on legalizing same-sex marriage on Friday, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party’s MPs Tuesday they would not be reprimanded for voting their conscience as opposed to voting in line with Merkel’s reservations about same-sex marriage.
The stunning change from the German leader comes only three months before the country will elect its next chancellor on September 24.
"I would like to steer the discussion into the direction of a question-of-conscience vote rather than me forcing through [Parliament] a majority decision," the Los Angeles Times quoted Merkel as saying on Monday in Berlin.
"I had a life-changing experience in my constituency," Merkel said, in which she saw that children adopted by same-sex couples had a fine upbringing. Her previous stance of caution on changing the law was based on concerns about children’s wellbeing in these families.
The socially progressive country made same-sex partnerships lawful in 2001, but Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), a center-right party, have since 2005 shunned the idea of bringing a bill on same-sex marriage to the floor of the Bundestag.
Staunch conservatives in the CDU caucus have been adamant about not changing the law, but Merkel has the political capital to endure criticism from her own party, according to political scientist Thomas Jaeger at Cologne University.
"About 80 percent of the people in Germany are in favor and she’s willing to take on a few hardline conservatives within her own ranks," Jaeger said.