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The answer can be discovered in the reaction to the Cologne attacks.Sweden prides itself on its sexual equality and has even pioneered a feminist foreign policy.Merkel's announcement on Monday that she would allow lawmakers to vote on same-sex marriage according to their individual conscience drew the ire of some in her traditionally Catholic conservative bloc.

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When hundreds of women were reported to have been molested and abused in Cologne — at the hands of an organised mob — the reaction from Swedish politicians and pundits ought to have been one of outrage.

Instead, we were told that the events in Cologne were not unusual.

Gay couples outside the chancellery, not far from parliament, kissed and hugged after the decision was announced, waving rainbow flags and carrying signs saying “Marriage for everybody.” “We’ve been happily married for eight years, but we could never call it that,” said 38-year-old Shoshana Brandt, standing alongside her partner and their son.

“We are happy and proud that we are now equal and we can live our love.” After years of lukewarm opposition to gay marriage following her party’s line, Merkel said Monday that lawmakers could take up the issue as a question of “conscience,” allowing members of her conservative coalition to individually vote for it if they wanted.

She said the decision for her was a personal one, but she hoped the result would lead to greater social cohesion. She allowed the vote knowing marriage would pass, pissing off conservatives, and then voted no, pissing off liberals.

But Merkel's shift on gay marriage wasn't a change of heart—it was a political calculation, as the NYT reported last week: The emotional issue of same-sex marriage moved swiftly to the center of Germany’s national election campaign on Tuesday after Chancellor Angela Merkel softened her resistance, saying for the first time that she would allow members of her party to vote as they saw fit on the issue. Merkel’s statement came after decisions by her current coalition partners, the Social Democrats—along with two other parties that may be part of her government after elections in September—made their support contingent on backing for same-sex marriage. I moved to West Berlin in 1989 with my then-boyfriend.He had received a fellowship from the West German government to study arts management at a German university.I was able to apply for a residency permit that allowed me to accompany him to West Germany—because I was his boyfriend.German lawmakers voted Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, a move widely supported across the country that brings Germany in line with many of its Western peers.Chancellor Angela Merkel voted against the measure, but paved the way for its passage by allowing members of her conservative party to vote according to their conscience.SEE ALSO: Majority of Americans think President Trump is abusing his powers But she said her decision was a personal one, adding that she had become convinced in recent years that same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt children."I hope that the vote today not only promotes respect between the different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace," Merkel said.

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