International headlines were mostly celebratory. Only a handful of reports, however, covered the story of 28-year-old Ulli Köppe, who asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel about marriage equality during a live panel at Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater just four days before the historic vote.
At the time, Köppe, who is a journalist and events manager, asked the chancellor, “When will I be able to call my boyfriend my husband?”
While Merkel had long been publicly opposed to same-sex marriage, she responded by dropping what some called a “political bombshell,” noting that she hoped the debate would shift “into the direction of a decision of conscience.”
In the end, Merkel voted against marriage equality. Still, her unexpected response to Köppe’s question is believed to have sent a national message encouraging other German lawmakers, including members of her conservative Christian Democrats party, to support it. “Ulli Köppe didn’t realize he would change history with a simple question this week,” wrote USA Today at the time.