Roughly 16 years after Germany legalized same-sex partnerships, the country is finally opening its doors for gay marriage. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had previously voiced reservations about marriage equality, dropped on Monday her opposition to the matter, calling for a vote in parliament on legalizing same-sex unions.
Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, has long opposed gay marriage. Even Merkel herself, during her last federal election campaign in 2013, said she’s uncertain about it “as far as children’s welfare is concerned.” But when she was pressed on her opposition to equal marriage during a forum organized by a German women’s magazine, Brigitte, she said the subject was really a “matter of personal belief.”
She had taken note of other German parties favoring same-sex marriage and declared that she, too, would now allow a free vote.
“I would like to lead the discussion more into a situation where it is a question of conscience rather than something I push through with a majority vote,” she said.
Same-Sex Marriage: A Tactical Move?
A majority of Germans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and they have been for a while. However, some criticized Merkel’s recent move as a political ploy with the federal election just three months away. According to Quartz, her party would need to form a coalition government by September, and her potential partners which include the Greens, the Social Democrats, and the Free Democrats have all agreed that the CDU needs to get on board with gay marriage or they won’t enter a partnership.
Still, Germany’s minority ruling party, the Social Democrats, are pushing for a vote to happen sometime this week before Parliament breaks up for the summer vacation. There are conflicting reports on whether or not the vote on the subject will happen; Deutsche Presse-Agentur claims it is scheduled for Friday.