Germany no closer to legalizing same-sex marriages
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition agreed on Wednesday to make small changes to same-sex civil partnership rules but staunch opposition from conservatives in her party means Germany will not follow Ireland in allowing gay marriages any time soon.
Although there are growing divisions within the party, Merkel's Christian Democrats are still overwhelmingly opposed to same-sex marriages partly due to fears it could upset voters on the right.
However, polls show 75 percent of Germans are in favor of legalizing gay marriages, as are the Social Democrats (SPD) and all opposition parties.
Merkel's cabinet gave same-sex couples more rights but this move was dismissed by critics as inadequate for a country that in 2001 became one of Europe's first to allow registered civil partnerships.
Justice Minister Heiko Maas, of the SPD, sounded disappointed that Germany could not take a bigger leap.
"Expanding rights for registered partnerships is another step toward giving same-sex unions the same rights as marriages," said Maas. "We haven't reached the goal yet."
Maas blamed resistance on the right in Merkel's party. "Unfortunately that wasn't possible with the conservatives."
The overwhelming "yes" vote in Ireland for same-sex marriage had triggered a discussion in Germany about the lingering gap in rights between registered partnerships and marriages. Continued...