In Germany, marriage is still an institution between a man and woman, and excludes the LGBTQ+ community. For a long time, same-sex marriage was seen as unnatural but fortunately, the mindset of many people towards this topic is changing. This is shown, for example, on events like the “Christopher Street Day” or “Gay Pride” where people, not only those of the LGBTQ+ community, demonstrate for equality. They say that equality is a human right and that therefore, everybody should have the same rights and be able to marry whomever they want.
On April 1, 2001, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize marriage equality. Nowadays, it is legal in more than 20 countries all over the world.
Due to recent changes in laws across the globe, including the referendum in Ireland on May 22, 2015 which ensured marriage equality, and the legalizing of same-sex marriage in the USA on June 26, 2015, the topic was also widely discussed in Germany.
The Opposition takes a pro-marriage equality stance. The politician, Volker Beck, for example, tweeted: “Congrats America! Jetzt ist Deutschland dran, liebe CDU/CSU/SPD!” (Congrats America! Now it’s Germany’s turn, dear CDU/CSU/SPD!“) after the decision of the supreme court in the USA.
Yet, the government (a coalition of the parties CDU, CSU, and SPD) is not as supportive as the oppositional parties. They struggle with prejudice and the intolerance of some of their members. For some of them, marriage is nothing but a way to procreate. Furthermore, they argue that marriage equality would lead to bigamy and incest in the long run.
In contrast to this opinion, a survey shows that over 2/3 of the German population support marriage equality. They do not see a reason for discriminating between homosexual and heterosexual couples. Furthermore, many people say that it’s a human right to be treated equally in all aspects of life, including marriage. They do not accept that people of the LGBTQ+ community are treated any differently than others and may even suffer violence at times. Although the violence against LGBTQ+ people in Germany is less than it is in other countries, there is still a lot of homophobic violence. In the long term, marriage equality could also contribute to a less homophobic way of thinking and violence because it is not only a step towards equality, but also a sign of acceptance.
Some people claim that marriage equality is not necessary because homosexual people in Germany already have the right to live in registered partnerships. Yet, there are still about 150 regulations in 54 laws that indicate differences between a civil partnership and a marriage. One of the biggest differences is that registered partnerships are not manifested in the constitution. Therefore, the government can decide that living in a civil partnership is not legal anymore, at any time. However, the most discussed difference is the right to adopt children. In contrast to spouses, people in a registered partnership are not allowed to adopt a child together. Although one partner is allowed to adopt a child on his own, they are not allowed to adopt children together. As a result, the other partner cannot make any decisions regarding the child. Another difference can be seen, for example, regarding the surviving dependent provisions.
People also disregard the idea that marriage equality is not “just another right that won’t change much”, but also a sign for acceptance and an action against the mindset that LGBTQ+ people are “second-class” citizens who are worth less.
Furthermore, if people claim that a registered partnership is almost the same as a marriage, that could lead to the question of why they would not accept marriage equality if there is “no big difference anyways”?
Yet, although there are so many reasons for legalizing marriage equality, it seems as if the government won’t change the law in the near future. But as the topic is discussed more and more, they will not be able to avoid it for too long. Until then, activists will keep fighting for marriage equality, not just in Germany, but all over the world.