‘Love wins’ in Germany – CNN
Berlin (CNN) — Pouring rain could do nothing to dampen the spirits of scores of people who gathered outside the Bundestag in Berlin on Friday morning, some clutching rainbow umbrellas, to await parliamentâs vote on a bill legalizing gay marriage in Germany.
As news came that the bill had passed — convincingly — they broke out into loud cheers, wept tears of joy and exchanged kisses. Some popped champagne corks in celebration despite the early hour.
This was the day that some had doubted would ever come. And now, in the space of a few days, an offer by Chancellor Angela Merkel to allow lawmakers a free vote on the issue has become all but law.
Once Germanyâs Senate approves the bill next week, as expected, homosexual couples in Germany will have the same rights as heterosexual couples to marry and jointly adopt children — barring any legal challenge.
âIt is a very important moment for Germany and for the queer people in Germany, because we fought really long for equality in our rights and now it is time,â project manager Andreas Reschke told CNN.
Asked if he had any marriage plans, Reschke laughed and looked at his partner as he responded. âYeah, maybe.â
Nico, a 20-year-old student who preferred to give only his first name, said he had traveled with his partner from Dresden, 120 miles away, to be part of the landmark moment and that he was now âso happy.â
âWe woke up very early and we knew it was raining in Berlin, but we thought it is so important we have to come here,â he said. âIt is incredible, I canât believe it. I think (Merkel) said it on Monday and today is Friday and we have a new law.â
The change means his dream of marriage is now possible, he said, as is his hope of one day adopting children.
Hannah Klaubert, 26, said it was important to be visible on such a significant day — and that the fight for equality was not over.
âThere are still 200 people who voted against (the bill) today, so I think itâs going to be important still,â said Klaubert, who works for an international non-profit organization.
âAnd there are so many other issues like trans-rights and all other kinds of things that are not okay here and that we need to keep on fighting for.â
Speaking after the bill passed, Merkel — who had until Monday opposed the holding of a free vote on the issue — said she had voted no, but that it had been important to put it to a vote of conscience.
Klaubert said she was unimpressed by the way the Chancellor handled the issue. âI think it was just a political, cold-hearted strategy and I really donât like it.â
For Torsten Benzin, a lawyer, the change in the law is hugely significant.
âIt took almost 30 years in Germany, we fought for it and today is the day. For me personally, because Iâm from the former GDR, this is as important as the Berlin Wall falling,â he said.
âIâm already in a partnership and of course, I will now finally change it into a real marriage.â This means no longer having to tick boxes on forms to say that he is âpartneredâ rather than married, Benzin said, adding: âMy sexuality is nobodyâs business.â
He said Merkel had delayed on the issue until her hand was finally forced by pressure from rival political parties ahead of Septemberâs elections. âI believe that it was a tactical maneuver because she knew, if she didnât do it now, it would be an ever-lasting thing for the next coalition negotiations.â
Software developer Sebastian Vetter told CNN he had braved the downpour to be part of the historic moment.
âIt is important to show we are here, we support gay marriage, marriage equality, marriage for everyone — so that the people there who are giving their vote know we are here and we are proud to be part of the community,â he said.
Merkel could have acted on the issue far sooner, Vetter said, but âno matter how it happened it just happened. Now we got the chance and we have to use it.â
While he has no immediate plans to get married, Vetter is very happy to now have that option.
âLetâs see what the future brings, but as we saw in other countries, if there is gender equality people are more aware that people love people and that has nothing to do with their sex or gender.
âIt is a step in the right direction to end discrimination.â