Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, just approved same-sex marriage, finally putting a country leading the European pushback against President Trump in line with its progressive neighbors.
The celebration of the results — both in parliament and in the street — had an air of shock as well as joy. That’s because the vote wasn’t even on the docket until earlier this week when Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the door to the vote, saying she would allow her party members — the Christian Democrats (CDU) — to vote their conscience. Until now the CDU party position has been firmly opposed to marriage equality.
Merkel made the sudden shift onstage at a live event for the magazine Brigitte on Monday evening. There she said she’d had a “life-changing” experience meeting a lesbian couple with foster children who were providing a warm and loving home for those children. Still, Merkel herself ultimately voted no.
“If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,” Thomas Oppermann, chair of the SDU, said this morning. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away.”
It was an emotional scene this morning as the votes were cast. Confetti guns were set off around Volker Beck, a Green Party member of parliament who is retiring this fall. He’s been fighting for same-sex marriage for his entire political career.
Firecrackers in parliament: #Greens MP @Volker_Beck, who for years fought for #GayMarriage, celebrates with party members. #EheFuerAlle pic.twitter.com/7oFKyn4LKp— DW | Politics (@dw_politics) June 30, 2017
And in the street, the LGBTQ community came out in force to celebrate.
Meeting lesbian moms being moms may have been truly heartwarming for Merkel, but the change of heart also came because the Green Party and the SPD, the Social Democrats, forced her hand. Both parties said they would make same-sex marriage a ballot-box issue in September when Germany holds federal elections. Each party indicated it would not enter into any coalitions with a party that refused to back marriage equality.
Still, same-sex marriage will likely be the law of the land before the end of 2017.