Germany: Parliament Votes to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

On June 30, 2017, the German Bundestag (parliament) adopted an amendment to the Civil Code that allows same-sex couples to enter into marriages. 

The amendment was passed with 393 to 226 votes and four abstentions in a roll-call vote in which parliamentarians were allowed to vote against party lines. (Gesetzentwurf des Bundesrates, Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Einführung des Rechts auf Eheschließung für Personen gleichen Geschlechts [Draft Act Submitted by the Bundesrat,  Draft Act to Allow Persons of the Same Sex to Get Married] (Draft Act) (Nov. 11, 2015), DEUTSCHER BUNDESTAG: DRUCKSACHEN UND PROTOKOLLE [BT-Drs.] 18/6665, Deutscher Bundestag website;  Majority in Bundestag Vote for “Marriage for All” (June 30, 2017), Deutscher Bundestag website (in German).)

The legislation adds a new paragraph to section 1353 of the German Civil Code that will state: “a marriage is entered into by two people of a different or the same sex for life.” (German Civil Code, Jan. 2, 2002, as amended, § 1353, BUNDESGESETZBLATT [BGBl.] [FEDERAL LAW GAZETTE] I at 42, 2909; corrected at 2003 BGBl. I at 738, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE.) Same-sex couples that are currently in a registered life partnership may convert their life partnership into a marriage. No new life partnerships may be registered after the amendment of the Civil Code enters into force. (Draft Act, art. 2.)

The Bundesrat, the constitutional body through which the German states participate in the legislative process, will debate the amendment in its session on July 7, 2017. Approval by the Bundesrat is very likely, as the initiative for the amendment of the law originated there. (Bundesrat, Nachtrag zur Tagesordnung der 959. Sitzung des Bundesrates am Freitag, dem 7. Juli 2017, 9.30 Uhr [Addition to the Agenda of the 959th Session of the Bundesrat on Friday, July 7, 2017, 9:30 a.m.] (June 30, 2017), at 3, Bundesrat website.) The act will enter into force once the Federal President has signed it and it is published in the Federal Law Gazette. (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Basic Law) (May 23, 1949), BGBl. I at 1, as amended, art. 82, GERMAN LAWS ONLINE (unofficial English translation).)

Possible Legal Challenges Against the Amendment

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