German Parliament Closes Out Pride By Paving The Way For Marriage Equality

Feature image via Getty

Just when I’d forgotten Autostraddle’s “We Won a Thing” tag exists, I woke up to the news that German parliament has finally approved same-sex marriage! The vote passed 393 to 226 on Friday after Chancellor Angela Merkel — presumably determined not to be outdone on the civil rights front by a country led by a deranged circus clown and a soulless theocrat — suddenly decided her Christian Democratic Union party members could “vote their conscience” on the issue. Merkel herself voted against the bill because blah blah one man one woman, but at the same time she “hopes that the vote today not only promotes respect between different opinions but also brings more social cohesion and peace.”

The marriage equality bill also introduced full adoption rights for same-sex couples (which Merkel does agree with).

Autostraddle reader Maria clarified the politics behind the decision:

On Monday Merkel said something about marriage equality which was “never gonna happen” for the first time ever at an event – it was sort of an interview with live audience for a German women’s magazine. People aren’t sure how and why this happened, but what’s really obvious is that Merkel and her party, CDU, felt a lot of pressure after every single other party that is a possible partner for a coalition after the general election in September said they won’t negotiate marriage equality.

Now, it is pretty smart to get rid of that topic beforehand. What is not so smart: After years of saying “no, never” getting to a place of “maybe, everyone should vote their belief” while parliament is still able to vote. This was the last active week for our parliament in this term. Nothing would have happened if this event had taken place a week (!) later. This wasn’t staged, it wasn’t planned.

So after that, it was really the other parties – and the coalition partner SPD (who was, but for complicated reasons, complicit in stalling the vote for about 4 years) – who took the initiative. Everyone was very much “fuck this shit, we’re done with this” at that point. They were just doing it. They scheduled the vote AGAINST the protest of Merkel and the CDU, knowing they had the majority.

Cheers broke out in parliament and parties broke out in the street after the “marriage for all” amendment was approved.

Parliament is heading into recess, after which the the bill will head to upper parliament for approval, and then President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will sign it into law. The New York Times expects gay Germans to be marrying each other by fall.

Congratulations, German gays! You really outdid yourself with your Pride celebration this year!

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle managing editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 802 articles for us.

41 Comments

    • I was just talking about this at lunch with my parents. That was so weird! They think it’s because Hollande just “dived” into it. I don’t think that’s true. I think France has always been more homophobic than a lot of other countries in Europe. The UK got equal marriage later than we did but gay couples had been able to adopt children a LOT earlier than that and marriage was pretty much a non issue.

      • agree, more homophobic – or in general “more traditional”, for example same goes for the role of women. While it is completely normal for French women to go back to work shortly after delivery – more so than in many European countries – their role and appearance by societal convention seem much more restricted. Have kids and a job but please be a gracious feminine godess while you’re at it.

        • That goes hand in hand with France’s conception of equality. Which is: uniformity. As soon as you look or act a by differently society makes you understand you need to correct your behaviour to fit back in.
          I feel so much freer in the UK !

    • oh we’ve had plenty of circus. the vote was stalled in parliament for a couple of years, the debate has been going on since forever (16-25 years or so). just the process to have the vote, to vote against the coalition, to do it in a couple of days – that was quick.

      • I’m sure the vote didn’t come out of nowhere and the debate has been building for a long time. I just meant compared to here where between the gap when the government announced the project as promised during the election and when they voted (the watered down version)… it was a total shit show. Huge homophobe rallies, horrible racist insults at the black woman in charge of the project, really violent protests, and even the death of a young student in a fight between skinheads and anti-fascists. It was a truly hellish several months where you couldn’t even go about your business getting to work or school without regularly passing raving groups of homophobes in the streets.

    • I was somehow anxious that it wouldn’t pass – against all odds. Now I am super happy, that it did. Umm, may have been crying a little, lalala.
      And I am very pleased, that Autostraddle posted about it, too :)))

  1. I’m afraid that what most Americans don’t understand is that Germany is quickly positioning itself as the world super power on many fronts. Once again Merkel is showing a great level of leadership on a world stage by putting for evidence that her person opinion on a matter won’t keep her from having all the citizens in her country on equal footing under the law. That speaks volumes when the United State’s President is having meltdowns about Morning Joe and his party is trying to make American Unhealthy Again!
    On a completely unrelated note: Jay-z’s mother came out as a lesbian on one of his tracks proving once again that Jay and Bey’s family is just too damn awesome for words! I mean coming out on your Grammy winning son’s album…that’s how you do PRIDE!

    • above all, it was an interior politics move by Merkel. Germany has general elections in 2 1/2 months and she didn’t want gay marriage as a rallying theme for her challenger. now thats out of the (her) way.

        • It was an asshole-move (she really wanted to steal everyone’s thunder probably) but it’s unsure if it was a master chess move – rumour has it she wasn’t supposed to talk about this issue this week (the last week in which the German parliament was able to pass new laws prior to the general election). I think this and a lot of other articles don’t really depict what happened and concentrate way, way too much on Merkel.

    • “I’m afraid that what most Americans don’t understand is that Germany is quickly positioning itself as the world super power on many fronts.”

      So?
      I’m glad we’re (Germany) stepping up and pulling Europe together while the US is falling all over itself.

      • Is it positioning itself as the world super power on many fronts?

        I guess I’d see it differently. There is no longer “the world super power”. And when it comes to the so-called Western world, the most important voice just went silent or is busy shouting insults at women. While the UK is, well nobody really knows what the UK is doing. In short: US and UK Straddlers, everybody needs you to step up and pull your countries together.

        • Well, I didn’t want to go into the whole “Superpower” thing, since that’s too WWII for me, but I see it the way you do.
          Honestly, I wish the U.K. and US would get it together, but that might take a while, and I am really glad, that Europe is filling that void right now.

      • “superpower” stuff aside, I got the sense from the rest of the comment you’re replying to that Shea would agree with you and is grateful for Germany’s leadership? I don’t like Merkel’s austerity politics either, but as Shea says, it is so great to see leaders of democratic countries make space–enough space even to allow for policy changes!–for difference of opinion instead of using their power to ram through dangerous and unpopular policies like the American GOP is doing with healthcare right now, for example.

        Anyhow, I’m on holiday in Germany now and very grateful I chose this week for a visit! Glückwunsch!

        • The way the EU (in which Germany is the dominant economic power) forced austerity policies on Greece, Spain, Portugal., etc is the very opposite of democratic. I don’t think we should heap praise a politician for not being literally a dictator.

    • We’ll, I’m glad that Germany can step up and stand for justice while the US is having a nervous breakdown! In my American optimism I believe we are just temporarily insane, but it’s going to be a bit before we work through this. My apologies to the rest of the world.

    • You phrase that like it’s a bad thing. Someone needs to do what’s necessary to maintain some cohesion and stability in Europe and to some extent the rest of the world while Trump and others do their best to create or add to the pervasive instability everywhere.

  2. I’m happy and slightly disbelieving!
    Merkel and her party are the conservatives, but I was going to vote for them anyway in November because the other German parties can’t provide a political leader of her caliber and what we need right now is someone with a cool head.
    However, I thought I was going to sign away my right to marry or adopt children,for peace, because I thought there would be NO WAY equal rights would happen under CDU rule.
    But now it did.
    Because a lesbian came up to Merkel at some rally and invited her to her home to visit her and her wife and their eight foster children.
    Merkel talked about that experience(she never went, but was impressed, that children’s services saw the couple fit to raise 8 kids and said, that she couldn’t hold on to her previous (homophobic) sentiments), on a talk stage set up by a woman’s magazine last week and how she wouldn’t hold members of her party to vote no on marriage equality any more.
    And now it’s Friday and it actually happened, somehow, super fast!
    OMG!

  3. Whatever the political reasons behind the timing of the vote, the reality of it is outstanding.

    Congratulations to all in Germany who have worked and hoped for their right to full acknowledgement of and participation in their own citizenship.

  4. Thanks for covering this, it’s always great to see German news on Autostraddle!

    However, I think that just a tiny bit more of background information would be nice, because it reads like we have to thank Angela Merkel for this, which we don’t, at all. Or, like one representative put it: “Thanks for nothing.”

    The thing is, on Monday she said something about marriage equality which wasn’t “never gonna happen” for the first time ever at an event – it was sort of an interview with live audience for a German women’s magazine. People aren’t sure how and why this happened, but what’s really obvious is that Merkel and her party, CDU, felt a lot of pressure after every single other party that is a possible partner for a coalition after the general election in September said they won’t negotiate marriage equality.
    Now, it is pretty smart to get rid of that topic beforehand. What is not so smart: After years of saying “no, never” getting to a place of “maybe, everyone should vote their belief” while parliament is still able to vote. This was the last active week for our parliament in this term. Nothing would have happened if this event had taken place a week (!) later. This wasn’t staged, it wasn’t planned.

    So after that, it was really the other parties – and the coalition partner SPD (who was, but for complicated reasons, complicit in stalling the vote for about 4 years) – who took the initiative. Everyone was very much “fuck this shit, we’re done with this” at that point. They were just doing it. They scheduled the vote AGAINST the protest of Merkel and the CDU, knowing they had the majority.

    Now, is this a good thing for Merkel? Could be, especially if we make it too much about her. We have to remember that she wasn’t the active part here. And I am sick and tired of conservatives being credited for the decade long hard work of acitivists and leftist politicians.

    But still, I am so so happy. And thanks for nothing, Merkel. Like, really.

  5. I’m super happy for the LGBTQI community in Germany, of course, and myself and my girlfriend (who will get married in Germany next year 🙂 ), but also – specifically – for Volker Beck, who is the Green Party politician clapping the hardest underneath the confetti in the video 🙂 who can celebrate this victory today, on his very last day as an MP in the German Bundestag after 23 years of fighting HARD for gay rights! Thanks, Mr Beck!

  6. I honestly didn’t expect beeing so moved. First I was like: Well done, Angie. Damn time and how smart you are, again. Maybe now I can vote for you without feeling slightly (very) guilty. Then: Oh, Martin Schulz, nice move! I was somewhat detached. But today, when I watched the live coverage of the Bundestagdebatte and the vote passed I had tears in my eyes. Before, it was all a big chess game with some unexpected moves but when the vote REALLY passed, ehefüralle became a reality I hadn’t known to ache for so much.

  7. I understand that a lot of activists are feeling frustrated (manipulated) by the details of how this vote came to be but I hope we can all celebrate the good result for LGTBQI living in Germany. YAY for love!! Thanks AS for reporting on this

  8. everytime I saw a “we won a thing” on AS I imagined how it must feel to live in the countries where marriage equality is finally a reality. And now I get to experience this. I am so happy, happier than I thought I would be.

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