Heiko Maas, Germany’s Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, has defied coalition rules and has turned same-sex marriage into a key issue for the 2017 general election.
Maas even voiced his support for gay marriage in a public letter, which was published in honour of the fifth anniversary of the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld, a foundation dedicated to researching the lives of LGBT people and educating society to hopefully end discrimination.
He wrote: “We need to defend Magnus Hirschfeld’s legacy with all our might. Especially now, as right-wing populists once again wake resentments, make homophobia socially acceptable and want to revive the 1950s’ outdated models of family and society.”
“Germany is a strong country, because everyone her can live after their own model of life. To promote this diversity, and to protect it against discrimination, that’s what the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld very successfully works for. In the future, it can continue to trust in my support, for example when it comes to supporting marriage for everyone.”
In Germany at the moment, same-sex couples can only enter into civil partnerships and have limited rights when it comes to adoption. Full marriage equality would also give them full adoption rights, alongside the benefits of marriage.
Maas is likely to face opposition for his stance on marriage equality, especially from the conservative Christian Democrats, who are part of the coalition government. They have already rejected the notion of full marriage equality, quoting the ability of same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships and adopt. However, adoption is limited to their step children.
But, as with any large group of people, not all Christian Democrats are against gay marriage. Stefan Kaufmann, who represents the Christian Democrats in the Bundestag’s education committee, had this to say: “With regards to equality, I consider opening marriage to same-sex couples to be urgently needed. When two registered partners legally have nearly all the rights and responsibilities spouses have, and so take long-term responsibility for each other, they should not be denied marriage.”