A little good news to start the day...
Germany’s parliament has voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, joining many other western democracies in granting gay and lesbian couples full rights, including adoption. Norbert Lammert, president of the parliament, said 393 lawmakers voted in favour, 226 voted against and four abstained. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she voted against the move because she believed marriage was for a man and a woman. She said the decision for her was a personal one, but she hoped the result would lead to greater social cohesion.
At first it seems odd that Merkel would vote no. She allowed the vote knowing marriage would pass, pissing off conservatives, and then voted no, pissing off liberals. But Merkel's shift on gay marriage wasn't a change of heart—it was a political calculation, as the NYT reported last week:
The emotional issue of same-sex marriage moved swiftly to the center of Germany’s national election campaign on Tuesday after Chancellor Angela Merkel softened her resistance, saying for the first time that she would allow members of her party to vote as they saw fit on the issue. Ms. Merkel’s statement came after decisions by her current coalition partners, the Social Democrats—along with two other parties that may be part of her government after elections in September—made their support contingent on backing for same-sex marriage.
No vote on marriage equality, no coalition; no coalition, no chancellorship.
On a personal note... I moved to West Berlin in 1989 with my then-boyfriend. He had received a fellowship from the West German government to study arts management at a German university. I was able to apply for a residency permit that allowed me to accompany him to West Germany—because I was his boyfriend.
This was before marriage equality had been achieved anywhere, before civil unions had been achieved anywhere, and I believe it may have been before domestic partner registries were a thing. All we had to say to the West German government was, "We're boyfriends," and I was allowed to join him. The feeling—the feeling of having our relationship treated like something legitimate and worthy of respect—had a profound impact on us both. We left Germany feeling entitled to equal treatment.
Germany was way ahead of the United States at the time, which afforded zero rights to same-sex couples—and we weren't just a same-sex couple, but a couple of foreigners as well. The United States leapfrogged past Germany two years ago when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Germany, which also legalized adoptions by same-sex couples today, has caught up to us.
UPDATE: On the same day that Germany legalized same-sex marriage, the Texas Supreme Court—nine Republicans—gutted same-sex marriage. This will wind up before the Supreme Court, where marriage equality is by no means secure.