A clear majority of German MPs have voted to legalize same-sex marriage; days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to a vote. The reform gives gay men and lesbians full marital rights, and allows them to adopt children. At present, same-sex couples are limited to civil unions. Mrs Merkel’s political opponents were strongly in favour. But Mrs Merkel, who gave MPs the go-ahead for a free vote only on Monday, voted against. The measure was backed by 393 lawmakers, while 226 voted against and four abstained. The German legal code will now read: “Marriage is entered into for life by two people of different or the same sex”, AFP news agency reported. During her 2013 election campaign, Mrs Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare,” and admitted that she had a “hard time” with the issue. But at an event hosted by the women’s magazine “Brigitte” on 26 June, she shocked the German media by announcing on stage that she had noted other parties’ support for it, and would allow a free vote in the future. The usually-cautious chancellor said she had had a “life-changing experience” in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together. As the news spread on Twitter, supporters rallied under the hashtag #EheFuerAlle (MarriageForAll) – and started calling for a vote as soon as possible. Following Friday’s vote, Mrs Merkel said that for her marriage was between a man and a woman. But she said she hoped the passing of the bill would lead to more “social peace”.