Germany: How dinner with a lesbian couple changed Angela Merkel's position on same-sex marriage

Chancellor Angela Merkel surprised Germans and her own conservative party just three months before the Sept. 24 election by abruptly signaling her support for same-sex marriage — a major shift for the normally cautious leader.

Even though Germany, generally considered progressive on social issues, was one of the first European countries to legalize same-sex partnerships, in 2001, Merkel’s conservative-led government since 2005 repeatedly refused to consider granting full legal rights for same-sex unions because of staunch opposition from her party’s right wing.

Already leery of Merkel because she eliminated military conscription, which the right cherished, and decided to close down the country’s nuclear power plants, the conservatives in her ruling Christian Democratic Union watched helplessly Monday evening as Merkel discarded yet another sacred chapter of their playbook by telling a group of readers from a women’s magazine that she was now in favor of an open vote in Parliament on same-sex marriage.

Merkel, who had spoken out firmly against same-sex marriage in the election campaign four years ago because she feared negative consequences for adopted children, shifted gears by mentioning at the event in Berlin, organized by Brigitte magazine, that she recently had an epiphany on the issue.

“I had a life-changing experience in my home constituency,” Merkel explained during a question-and-answer session with the audience. She said she had been invited to dinner with a woman and her partner who were caring for eight foster children. She saw that the children were well cared for, and it dawned on her that her party’s arguments against same-sex marriage were no longer valid. Read more via LA Times