GERMANY: Merkel Signals Green Light For Marriage

The Guardian reports:

Angela Merkel has signaled a change in her party’s opposition to gay marriage after stating MPs should be allowed a free vote in the German parliament.

Speaking at an event organised by women’s magazine Brigitte, the German chancellor said she felt aggrieved that the gay marriage debate was mainly carried out along party lines and that she hoped the discussion would be “headed towards a conscience vote”.

It is widely believed the Bundestag would legalise gay marriage in a free vote on the issue. Germany is one of a few western countries where gay marriage is still not legal. Civil partnership has been allowed since 2001, but Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has resisted calls to open up marriage to same sex couples.

Deutsche Welle reports on how the revelation went down:

With just a few minutes left for questions from the audience, a gay man challenged the chancellor on the issue of same-sex marriage: He said that he wanted to know when he would finally be allowed to refer to his registered partner as “my husband.”

Merkel replied that she had noticed that all other parties in the Bundestag were in favor of same-sex marriage, and that the idea of gay marriage enjoyed widespread support among German voters. And then she dropped an unexpected political bombshell: Merkel said she “hopes” that the debate will shift “into the direction of a decision of conscience.”

In non-political speak this mean that there could soon be a vote in the Bundestag without party whip control on the issue, suggesting that same-sex marriage may only be months away from becoming a legal reality in Germany.