Germany: Same-sex unions at the end of the Regenbogen

Since 2001, German gay and lesbian couples have been able to enter civil unions, and enjoy the same rights as heterosexual spouses for tax and inheritance. But same-sex couples do not have full adoption rights, and their union is not called marriage. Many Germans find this embarrassing.

A 2013 poll found 74% in favour of full marriage rights for homosexuals. So are the opposition Greens and Die Linke in parliament, as well as the Social Democrats, the junior party in the ruling grand coalition. The upper-house Bundesrat, where these three parties have a majority, recently passed a non-binding resolution urging the government to make marriage available to all.

That was largely symbolic, because of opposition within Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right block, consisting of two “Christian” parties: her own Christian Democratic Union and the more conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union. Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the premier of Saarland, recently argued that if you allow gay marriage, incestuous or polygamous nuptials might be next.

Yet within the CDU attitudes are changing. The defence minister, Ursula von der Leyen told the party’s executive committee that “something fundamental has changed in society.”  Read More