June 30 (UPI) -- The German parliament on Friday passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel, who voted against the measure, encouraged her party to vote their conscience.
Members of Germany's Bundestag voted 393-226 to pass the bill, and four people abstained.
Merkel voted no, saying "For me marriage as defined by the law is the marriage of a man and a woman." But she encouraged her conservative Christian Democratic Party -- which has long opposed same-sex marriage -- to take up the measure as a "question of conscience." She said hoped a vote in favor would bring about "more social peace."
Merkel also said she believes same-sex couples should be able to adopt children.
The chancellor's recent comments on the topic spurred the last-minute vote in parliament before its summer break.
Germany becomes the 14th European country to approve same-sex marriage, the first of which was the Netherlands in 2001. Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy have not OK'd same-sex marriage, but do allow civil partnerships