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The Gay Berliner: Married by Merkel

In light of gay marriage becoming officially legal from Sunday October 1 (yippee), Walter Crasshole asks what impact the legislation could have had on the gay vote.

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Photo by Joelk75 (CC BY 2.0)

In light of gay marriage becoming officially legal from Sunday October 1 (yippee), Walter Crasshole asks what the impact the legislation could have had on the gay vote.

Here comes the groom… and the groom! And let’s not forget the bride and bride, of course. Led down the aisle by a softly smiling Angie Merkel. Or is she smiling? She did in fact vote against making same-sex marriage legal in Germany on June 30. But as of October, gay marriage should be fully in effect. And we queers were supposed to show our gratefulness on September 24.

Personally, I haven’t been that bothered about gay marriage. Civil partnerships seemed about the same to me (except for adoption, obviously), but I’m proud that given the troubled fuck- ing times back where I’m from (Murrrica!), Germany seems tobe moving ahead under Merkel. Go ahead and slap me, but we Americans still view her with a bit of glitter in our eyes. Don’t The New Yorker, Time and the NYT all think she’s great? And we’re not the only ones: Stefano, my Italian noise artist friend, publicly thanked her on Facebook for making it happen.

“But she didn’t actually call the vote,” my friend Florian said. “Martin Schulz did.” Obviously, the German take isn’t as kind. A CDU to SPD convert, Florian thinks Merkel’s getting way too much credit for something she doesn’t really support.

With 22 countries around the world (including the US) recognising gay marriage, and 13 of them in Europe, it was only a matter of time before Germany had to update its Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft to the big M. And we sure as hell were ready for it. In 2016, Germany’s Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency found that 83 percent of Germans were in favour of gay marriage, and strategist Merkel – famous for governing wherever the wind blows – couldn’t have missed that. The vote itself played out a little more conservatively, with only 60 percent voting in favour of it and Merkel among the 226 dissenters.

So did she lose or did she win? Germany’s real big M has proven herself an adept political animal, from her stance on nuclear power to the refugee crisis. With the September elections looming and such strong support for a small-potatoes issue, Mutti had the upper hand by putting gay marriage on the table. And voting no? She may not even be against it, but with the knowledge that gay marriage would win in the Bundestag either way, she kept both liberal voters and her conservative base happy.

Ironically, it didn’t make gay conservatives completely happy. “It was disappointing,” said one of the few gay CDU voters I know. “I would have been happier had she voted differently. But I don’t think she’s against gay people. She’s made some positive comments, like her statement on the attack in Orlando.”

As for SPD voter Florian, “Merkel’s move only strengthened the opinion I already had of her: a politician with no actual agenda of her own, who’s addicted to power.”

Merkel might not have gotten the upper-hand on both sides, like everyone says. So, is she smiling? Can Angie have her Sekt and drink it too? She can and she always has – and her public image continues to sparkle, particularly abroad. As for us gays, even if we’re not going to vote for her, we’re still smiling. Prost!