Germany: Meet The 28-Year-Old Who Helped Pave The Way For Marriage Equality In Germany

German lawmakers voted in June to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a milestone for LGBTQ rights in Europe’s most populous country. 

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. 

On Thursday, Köppe looked back on his moment in the spotlight as part of an interview with Berlin-based journalists Clare Richardson and Rebecca Ritters for the new podcast “Europe to Date.”

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