Germany could very soon join the countries that have already legalized same-sex marriage around the world.
This is an unexpected turning point in German politics. While the conservatives in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party and the chancellor herself have raised their opposition on the subject for years, according to German website Deutsche Welle, the Bundestag (the equivalent of the U.S. House of Representatives), could soon approve marriage for same-sex couples … even within a few days.
How did we get here so quickly?
A recent gesture of Chancellor Merkel allowed this progress. Merkel abolished a provision which mandated deputies affiliated to a party to follow the voting instructions of their party. Now, they can vote according to their conscience.
In a recent interview, Angela Merkel herself explained that voting was a choice of conscience. But this gesture is not without a hidden agenda. The question of marriage has also been used as a political issue in the upcoming September 24 parliamentary elections.
Social Democrats (SPD), partners with conservatives in the German Grand Coalition, are in favor of marriage of same-sex couples and could ask for a vote on this issue.
Germany currently offers civil partnerships with many advantages and protections but does not allow adoption by same-sex couples. During a meeting in the Bundestag, Volker Kauder, the head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) group — the Chancellor’s party — asked CDU parliamentarians to come in droves to vote and that they should treat the decisions of other members of the Bundestag with respect.
Why did Merkel suddenly support a vote of conscience on same-sex marriage?
Voting is not without an ulterior motive though. Both the CDU and the SPD hope to gain voter support by a vote on same-sex marriage. Martin Schulz, leader of the SPD, hopes to get votes in the legislative elections by speeding up the timetable on the issue of marriage.
The Free Democrats and the Greens also support the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples. Merkel will need the support of both sides if she wants to lead a coalition without the SPD after fall’s election.
(Featured image by cesaria1 via iStock)