Official results showed the measure passed with 64.1% of voters in favor and won a majority in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, or states.
Switzerland’s parliament and the governing Federal Council supported the “Marriage for All” measure. Switzerland has authorized same-sex civil partnerships since 2007.
Supporters said passage would put same-sex partners on equal legal footing with heterosexual couples by allowing them to adopt children together and facilitating citizenship for same-sex spouses. It would also permit lesbian couples to utilize regulated sperm donation.
Opponents believe that replacing civil partnerships with full marriage rights would undermine families based on a union between one man and one woman.
At a polling station in Geneva on Sunday, voter Anna Leimgruber said she cast her ballot for the “no” camp because she believed “children would need to have a dad and a mom.”
But Nicolas Dzierlatka, who voted “yes,” said what children need is love.
“I think what’s important for children is that they are loved and respected — and I think there are children who are not respected or loved in so-called ‘hetero’ couples,” he said.
The campaign has been rife with allegations of unfair tactics, with the opposing sides decrying the ripping down of posters, LGBT hotlines getting flooded with complaints, hostile emails, shouted insults against campaigners and efforts to silence opposing views.
Switzerland, which has a population of 8.5 million, is traditionally conservative and only extended the right to vote to all its women in 1990.
Most countries in Western Europe already recognize same-sex marriage, while most of those in Central and Eastern Europe don’t allow wedlock involving two men or two women.
Supporters say it could still be months before same-sex couples can get married, mainly because of administrative and legislative procedures.
Also on Sunday, voters dismissed a proposal spearheaded by left-wing groups to raise taxes on returns from investments and capital such as dividends or income from rental properties in Switzerland as a way to ensure better redistribution and fairer taxation.
Results showed 64.9% voting against it in a country known for its vibrant financial sector and relatively low taxes, and as a haven for many of the world’s richest people. No canton voted in favor.