Germany, Like America, Ponders Life After Marriage

On the evening of June 30, filmmaker Jochen Hick found his way to the Reichstag in Berlin for a party he never expected to attend. The Green Party was celebrating a vote, just hours earlier, to legalize same-sex marriage in Germany.

At the party, people danced and sang, toasted to equality, and celebrated the career of Volker Beck, a member of Parliament who’d devoted decades of work to LGBT liberation. Beck was about to retire, and the party in his honor had been planned well in advance — that it coincided with the last-minute vote was pure coincidence.

“Ah,” Jochen remembers thinking as he surveyed the scene, “So far we’ve come. But what will be next?”

After years of delay from Chancellor Angela Merkel, legal marriage will come to Germany this autumn with startling speed. German queers are elated; at a party thrown by the Ministry of Family Affairs, singer and actress Sigrid Grajek sang the nearly century-old queer anthem “The Lavender Song.” At Christopher Street Day in Berlin, marchers stomped ebulliently through puddles amidst a torrential downpour.

Germans are beyond ready for marriage to arrive. A recent poll by Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency showed 83 percent in favor, and the Federal Constitutional Court, the Bundesverfassungsgericht, noted that same-sex couples faced unacceptable injustice. Unlike in America’s religiously dominated political parties, there’s majority support for equality in Germany’s Christian Democrats and right-wing AfD.

German resistance to marriage equality is limited, and comes either from small groups of religious fundamentalists or from queer activists who note the institution’s history of oppressive patriarchy.

But with work on marriage now all but complete, many German queers turn now to the question of what’s to be done next. In activist circles, the conversation has turned increasingly toward attitudes of exclusion within the community itself. Read more via Advocate