The German parliament, or Bundestag, on Friday passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in a snap vote, Deutsche Welle reported.
The bill passed by 393 to 226, with four abstentions. Merkel herself voted against the bill, although her comments helped bring it about. However, more than 70 members of Merkel's conservative bloc must have voted in favor of the bill for it to pass.
Same-sex couples in Germany could already form civil unions, but they could not marry.
Germany's approval of homosexual marriages adds it to the growing list of Western countries that allow such unions. Fourteen European countries have now made gay marriage legal, with the Netherlands leading the way in 2001.