Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved same-sex marriage on Sunday, endorsing a measure that carried all 26 of the nation's cantons. The referendum was on track to receive the support of 64% of voters, the BBC reports. Supporters expressed relief, and Amnesty International called the decision a "milestone for equality," per Reuters. The measure had already cleared Parliament and has the backing of all but one political party. But opponents forced a national vote anyway. Thousands demonstrated in support of the change earlier this month.
A member of the right-wing People's Party, which opposed the measure, called the electon result a loss for children and fathers. "This was not about love and feelings," Monika Rueegge said. "It was about children's welfare." Same-sex couples also will be allowed to adopt children unrelated to them and have children through sperm donation. And a foreign spouse of a Swiss citizen will have an easier time getting citizenship. It will still be months before same-sex couples can marry, per the AP, because legislative and procedural steps will need to be completed.
Supporters immediately launched celebrations, saying same-sex couples now have legal standing equal to that of heterosexual couples. Most nations in Western Europe already allow same-sex marriages. Social change often lags in Switzerland because so many major issues go to a national vote, per the BBC. It was 1990 before all Swiss women were guaranteed the right to vote. (Read more same-sex marriage stories.)