Merkel’s rivals to publish draft same-sex marriage bill ahead of key German election
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s main election rivals are set to publish draft proposals on same-sex marriage.
At present, Germany is governed via a Grand Coalition comprised of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Angela Merkel’s right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU), along with the Christian Social Union in Bavaria.
Though same-sex couples are permitted to enter unions in the country, the government has ruled out any progress on equal marriage due to a strict coalition agreement.
However, the SPD – who are gaining on Merkel’s CDU in the polls ahead of September’s federal elections – are now challenging their coalition partners on the issue.
German newspaper Funke Mediengruppe reports that the SPD has drawn up a draft bill on the issue and officials are planning to raise it with Merkel’s party at this week’s Coalition meeting.
According to The Local, SPD Bundestag leader Thomas Oppermann said: “In the future, marriage should be possible as well for same-sex couples.
“I hope that the CDU and CSU can finally change their spots.”
The issue is likely to be a key dividing line between to the Coalition parties.
Ahead of the election, Merkel will be keen not to alienate her traditional right-wing voter base, which is already under pressure from the far-right AfD over her refugee policies. But she will also want to win over centre-ground voters who are supporting the SPD in greater numbers.
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Chancellor Merkel has repeatedly ruled out calls to introduce equal marriage, saying: “For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together.”
The upper house of the German Parliament has previously passed symbolic motions calling for same-sex marriage.
Unlike the Bundestag (main chamber of the Germany Parliament), where Chancellor Merkel’s Grand Coalition holds control, the Bundesrat (equivalent to the Upper House/Senate) is controlled by the 16 state governments, with a left-wing majority.
A coalition of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Leftbacked a bill in the Bundesrat that would recognise unions between same-sex couples, despite Chancellor Merkel’s insistence it is between a man and a woman.
However, no legislation is likely to pass the Bundestag without the government’s blessing
Germany allows same-sex couples to enter into registered life partnerships that provide some of the benefits of marriage – but the CDU and CSU continues to oppose same-sex marriage.