Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

German Chancellor Angela Merkel paves a path toward gay marriage

Former German Chancellor Schroeder delivers his speech at the SPD party convention in Dortmund Merkel's about face on refugees key to her electoral surge
Sammy Stanley | 29 June, 2017, 09:08

At a forum on Monday, she said she was open to a vote of conscience (freeing lawmakers from toeing the party line) - in which the reform would nearly certainly pass.

"The LSVD welcomes the fact that after 15 years of an ideological blockade, Mrs. Merkel and the Christian Democratic Union are ready to make some progress on the issue of same-sex marriage", said Germany's biggest LGBT campaigning group - "Lesben-und Schwulenverband" - in a Tuesday statement.

It seems that Merkel's CDU meanwhile would prefer to dangle the prospect of legalizing gay marriage like the proverbial carrot in front of a donkey, hoping to confirm and expand the party's broad support by making the parliamentary vote on gay marriage one of the first points of order for the next government.

But Schulz, who also accused Merkel of "arrogance", was swiftly met with a torrent of protest and accused of having crossed a line.

Matthias Zeller, a 21-year-old Social Democratic activist, caused a stir in Germany when he enthused on national television that his party's new leader Martin Schulz was a "geile Sau" - which loosely translates as "sexy beast". There was no need for legislative changes as civil partnerships offered the same rights to same-sex couples, aside from adoption. The CDU will present its election manifesto next week. However, with Merkel riding high in the polls, it appears the party has decided it has the political legroom to reach out beyond its traditional base. But Mrs Merkel could still face a backlash within her own party, or with its Bavarian counterpart, the Christian Social Union. In 2013, the chancellor said she had a "hard time" with the issue, and that she had "difficulties" with giving gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt. "We say Yes to marriage for all".

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They acted after Merkel had on Monday night dropped her long-time opposition to the reform, sparking widespread calls for a speedy vote. When asked why it has taken so long for this topic to be purposefully discussed in Germany, she told DW: "Because we discuss topics much more exhaustively here, rather than simply orienting ourselves on the topic of the day".

Following Merkel's comments, lawmakers from the SPD, who are in coalition with the CDU and CSU, and from the opposition Greens and The Left (Die Linke) demanded a vote take place this week.

The SPD's call for gay marriage comes just a week after the Greens set a similar condition, putting pressure on Merkel's CDU, which has so far refused to allow same gender couples to tie the knot.

Schulz, a Social Democrat (SPD) and the main challenger to Angela Merkel in the upcoming September election, made the comments at a party convention on Sunday.

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