Leaders of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party are rejecting calls to embrace full-fledged marriage for gay couples following Irish voters' decision to legalize it.

Same-sex couples in Germany have been able to enter civil unions that fall short of marriage since a center-left government introduced them in 2001.

Merkel's Christian Democratic Union has been reluctant to go further, though its coalition agreement with the center-left Social Democrats pledges to end "discrimination" against civil unions. The Cabinet recently approved administrative changes to improve their status.

Several Social Democrat-led states are advocating full gay marriage, which has some supporters in Merkel's CDU. General secretary Peter Tauber said Monday that party leaders want to take "no further steps beyond what is in the coalition deal," news agency dpa reported.