Merkel paves way for gay marriage vote in Germany

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Series Details 27.06.17
Publication Date 27/06/2017
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Gay marriage has been a debating issue in Germany for decades. Civil partnerships were seen by those rejecting full marriage equality as an appropriate concession to homosexual couples.

Registered civil partnerships were established by the SPD government led by Gerhard Schröder in 2001. Although the law failed to guarantee the right of gay couples to adopt, nor secure them tax equality, it was back then seen by policymakers as sufficiently progressive.

Angela Merkel is known to have traditionally sought to prevent calls for policy change within her own CDU party, given her publicly known reticence regarding a move towards same-sex marriage. Hence the surprise of this shift to labeling gay marriage as a 'question of conscience'.

Analysts argued Ms Merkel sought to keep the topic out of the electoral campaign ahead of the federal election in September 2017. Social democrats, Greens and leftist parties had shortly before called for full marriage equality and hinted at this being turned into a prerequisite for any potential ruling coalition.

Same-sex marriages were expected to become a reality in Germany following indications that Chancellor Angela Merkel had moved for primarily political reasons in June 2017 to accept a change in her party’s opposition to gay marriage by stating MPs should be allowed a free vote in the German parliament.

The apparent change of position prompted the Social Democrats to call for a 'speedy vote' in the Bundestag to grant marriage equality homosexual couples.

On the 30 June 2017, the German parliament passed a law paving the way for gay marriage after a free vote was allowed. 393 members of parliament voted in favour, while 226 voted against and 4 abstained. Chancellor Merkel herself voted against the reform suggesting that based on Article 6 of the German Constitution that a marriage was between a man and a woman.

As a result of the vote the marriage law would be amended to reflect the vote, and same-sex couples might be able to get married before the end of 2017.

Some commentators suggested that the German Constitutional Court would inevitably get involved in the issue. In previous rulings, Germany's Constitutional Court had left little doubt that, unless the constitution was amended, same-sex marriage would be unconstitutional.

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