The big rush failed to materialize

Since the 1. October 2017 gay and lesbian couples can officially marry. Almost 33.000 have done so since then. However, the big rush that the registry offices were expecting, especially in large cities, failed to materialize.

The Bundestag argued about it for years, then suddenly everything happened very quickly: After Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), to the surprise of many, declared "marriage for all" a matter of conscience without parliamentary party constraints shortly before the Bundestag elections in summer 2017, the Bundestag passed the new regulation just a few days later in the last session before the summer recess. The law already came into force on 1. October of the year in force. Since then, homosexual couples can also marry in front of the registry office.

Almost 33.000 have done so since then, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Nationwide, same-sex marriage now accounts for about seven percent of all marriages. In the civil code the appropriate Pas had to be changed for it. The amendment now states: "Marriage is entered into for life by two persons of the same or different sex".

Emotional debate

Merkel's decision was partly due to former Green Party member of the Bundestag Volker Beck, who had lobbied the Greens to make "marriage for all" a condition of the coalition. The SPD and the FDP followed suit. In the vote in the Bundestag, a large majority of parliamentarians finally spoke out in favor of opening up marriage – Merkel, however, voted "no.".

The debate was very emotional at the time: Erika Steinbach, then a non-factional member of parliament who had left the CDU a few months earlier and is now chairwoman of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation, used her speech to settle accounts with the chancellor. She had been the one, and not the SPD, who "opened the door wide for today's decision," which meant a violation of the Basic Law.

Other speeches were more moderate: Thomas Oppermann, then head of the SPD parliamentary group, stressed that the vote "may not be good for the coalition, but it is good for the people". Marriage is "not about gender, but about two people wanting to take responsibility for each other.".

Union faction leader Volker Kauder said that as a Christian he could come to no other conclusion than that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. However, he naturally wants to allow everyone to make a different decision of conscience.

In contrast, Green party leader Katrin Goring-Eckardt spoke of a "historic day". The law is about "human dignity, the freedom of the personality and equality before the law".

Catholic Church against "marriage for all

Among the critics of "marriage for all" is also the Catholic Church: While the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) declared that this would not diminish the importance of marriage between a man and a woman, the Catholic bishops were opposed to the new regulation ab.

Germany is not the only country in Europe to introduce "marriage for all." In traditionally Catholic countries such as Italy, Ireland or Malta, "marriage for all" is now also enshrined in law. At the same time, homosexuality is punishable in more than 70 countries – mainly in Africa and Asia – and in some countries homosexuals even face the death penalty.

Satisfied expresses itself to the anniversary the lesbian and gay federation. "Marriage for all has made our society fairer, more open and more democratic," he said in Berlin on Monday. At the same time, he demanded that the federal government step up its game when it comes to parentage law. "Rainbow families in their various constellations should finally be legally recognized and secured," says the association.

In fact, the Federal Ministry of Justice is dealing with a reform of family law. Heiko Maas (SPD), as justice minister, had experts consult in the "Working Group on Parentage Law" for two years. One of the ies at stake was whether, in a marriage between two women, both should automatically get custody of a child or only the one carrying the child. The final report recommends the former. However, a concrete bill is no longer expected in this legislative period.

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Christina Cherry
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