Germany is in the midst of some social changes: Grand Chancellor Angela Merkel just won her fourth term. The country’s lesbian-led, anti-immigrant Alternative for Deutschland party (AFD) just became the first far-right party to enter Germany’s parliament in over half a century. And — in happier news — the country will start holding same-sex marriages this Sunday.
An estimated 94,000 same-sex couples will be eligible to wed.
How did Germany legalize same-sex marriage?
The country’s legalization of marriage equality seemed to happen suddenly at the end of this last June when the Bundestag (the German Parliament) voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote occurred after Merkel abolished a provision requiring members of parliament to cast votes according to instructions of their affiliated party.
During this “conscience vote”, a majority voted to include same-sex couples under the nation’s existing marriage laws. The vote took 38 minutes.
Germany’s far-right party tried to stop same-sex marriage at the last minute
The AFD party tried to stop the marriage law from going into effect by threatening to file a complaint to the Federal Constitutional Court. They alleged that the same-sex marriage law as approved by the parliament lacked key provisions explaining how same-sex civil unions currently offered by Germany would convert into full-fledged marriages after same-sex marriage got legalized.
The AFD’s platform proclaims that “Children need both parents” and society needs to “strengthen fathers.” (They also oppose gender equality efforts and public school sex education courses.) However, because the AFD had no members in parliament when they filed their complaint, they had no legal standing to pursue it.
While its conceivable that they might try to mount a legal challenge now that they have members in parliament, same-sex couples in civil unions will have the option to upgrade their unions to full-fledged marriages starting this Sunday, if they choose.
Same-sex couples in Germany and the U.S. aren’t equal when it comes to parenting
Unlike the United States, Germany has nationwide laws protecting same-sex married couples from discrimination in the workplace and public accommodations (that is, businesses offering goods and services). A couple that gets married in October won’t have to worry about losing their job or getting barred from places of business the same day.
However, it remains to be seen whether Germany will also update its problematic adoption laws to make parenthood easier for same-sex parents to achieve. The United States is similar in this regard: Even though it legalized marriage equality in 2015, legally wedded same-sex couples still have to jump through numerous, costly legal hoops just to raise their own kids.
Below are videos explaining Germany’s battle for gay rights and the coming marriages:
Featured image by fotografixx via iStock