Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

June 28 2017
Hey everyone, 

I'm a little hyped because of some events unfolding in Germany over the last couple of days. In a very sudden change of heart, chancellor Merkel softened 
her previous anti-gay marriage stance by saying in an interview on Monday that any future decision on the matter should be a "vote of conscience" for members of the German parliament. To give you some context: Usually members of parliament are bound to vote along party lines and her own Christian party, CDU/CSU, had long held a very conservative view on LGBTIQ rights and only slowly agreed to improve the legal situation for queer people over the last couple of years - despite all other parliament parties having a firm pro gay marriage stance.

Merkel's coalition partner, SPD, jumped at those words and supported a new vote set for Friday. Previously they postponed every initiative for such a referendum in respect to the coalition... but since the term is almost over and every major democratic party in Germany said that they won't enter a new coalition with Merkel's party without marriage equality, they rushed the issue to be voted on before the summer break. The vote is likely to pass with the votes of SPD, opposition parties and even a few CDU members. So, very very suddenly the fight for marriage equality in Germany might end this Friday - nobody would have guessed that a week ago!

Neither would I have guessed last December when my boyfriend and I entered a "registered partnership" (civil union). We can't wait to change that arrangement to a real marriage... which will likely happen in September when the law will be offically changed. And I'm still stoked and shocked that this is really happening right now.

The NYT has a good overview over the events:®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

So, when the law passes this Friday, maybe raise a glass or two for the German community and the many, many people who have fought for this change over the last couple of decades!
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Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

June 28 2017
I'm frankly surprised to hear that Germany hasn't had marriage equality.  I'm a little embarrassed about not being properly informed, as I guess I just assumed that gay marriage had been legal there for some time.  I feel as though the North American perception of Germany is that it's a progressive country, often taking the lead on matters of immigration and foreign policy, technology development and environmental issues, so this comes as a surprise to me! 

With my grandparents having come from Germany and having visited there twice when I was young, I'm very excited for you all to hear that marriage equality is on the verge of becoming law.  I'm excited to see what this Friday has to bring!
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Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

June 29 2017
Germany has had civil unions since 2001. But this construct had been very barebones, initially. When it was introduced it hardly granted any rights to same-sex couples. Many of these rights have been amended over the years. Mostly since 2012, and with a lot of pressure from the Federal Court and against the expressed will of Merkel's party. The big thing still missing are adoption rights.

But then there's the real-life handling of civil unions, as well: Tax regulations were equalized between civil unions and marriages in 2013 (through a Federal Court ruling, I think). Until last year, all tax-related paperwork required one partner to be registered as "husband" and one as "wife" because the software (from public institutions, no less!) couldn't handle same-sex partners. And when my husband  - oh, wait, "registered life partner" (how romantic!) - called his work last December to inform them he's now in a civil union, they weren't able to register that because the option was missing... and we're talking about a big, globally known corporation here. It was extremely frustrating to see and experience how civil unions were often not taken seriously, despite having been installed over 15 years ago. 

That's something that often happens in Germany, to be honest. Our laws and regulations are often quite progressive. But society doesn't always reflect that too well.

Germany has often been among the more conservative countries in Western Europe. Thanks in particular to Merkel's party, CDU, and their Bavarian sister party, CSU (which is often way worse). But our "conservatism" probably doesn't fall on the same scale as American conservatism. During the past few US elections, Germans have traditionally largely supported the Democratic candidate - both Obama and Clinton hit approval ratings in excess of 90%.

But then, it's often also tricky to perceive a country's politics only through a foreign politics viewpoint. Angela Merkel has done some amazing things in this area and I think it's well-deserved that she's a highly regarded world leader and has been praised for her handling of the refugee crises and as a defender of democracy. But a lot of people aren't as happy with her in regards to domestic politics. Some (count me in) because she is often way too hesitant and conservative, others because they decry her as "leftist" (among them members of her own party and, especially, members of her Bavarian sister party). And the frustrating thing with Merkel is also, that she rarely speaks from her heart or her own mind. On most issues she waits to see which is the most popular way to take - she's extremely opportunistic in this regard. And the same thing has now been happening with legalizing gay marriage. 

But you know what? I don't wanna care at this point. Whether Merkel made her decision because of a change of heart, or a slip of tongue or because she wanted to rob the opposition parties off an election topic... The result that tomorrow may bring matters. Because it may change the life of so many people. And I couldn't be happier about the thought that by tomorrow evening this one, decade long struggle may come to an end, finally.

Sorry for the long reply. But there are so many interesting aspects to this whole issue in regards to German politics... and it feels a little like the country (or its political leadership, at least) is going bananas right now. But, again, good riddance to them as long as the bill passes tomorrow.

Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

June 30 2017
What a historic moment this morning! I was sobbing as soon as the Parliament decided to allow the vote today. And despite the hesitation of Merkel's party (and herself, sadly) the debate was very civilized and appreciative towards gay couples, even from those who opposed marriage equality. In the end the votes were 393 to 226 in favor of marriage equality. 


The New York Times on the vote: Parliament in Germany Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Oh, and I absolutely adore this picture of Volker Beck celebrating the result of the vote. He is a member of parliament from the Green party who has fought for marriage equality since the early 90s. Today was his last day in parliament and it must have been such an extraordinary honor to have this bill pass on his final day. I've met him twice and he's a real champion of LGBTIQA* rights in Germany - seeing him celebrate this achievement was doubly sweet. 
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Edited June 30 2017 by backyardserenade

Germany is about to legalize gay marriage this week

July 04 2017
Quote by @Voleron
I'm frankly surprised to hear that Germany hasn't had marriage equality.  I'm a little embarrassed about not being properly informed, as I guess I just assumed that gay marriage had been legal there for some time.

You're not the only one. I thought it was legal there already too and I live right next to them.
3 people liked this