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No party whip on gay marriage

Germany
27.06.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
German lawmakers to face no party whip on gay marriage, Merkel says
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she will allow members of her Christian Democrat (CDU) party to vote freely on any gay marriage bill that comes before the Bundestag.
GALLERY
Berlin (dpa) - Speaking after meeting with her party, she said a decision on introducing marriage equality for same-sex couples was a matter of conscience and for individual lawmakers to decide, therefore she was removing the party whip for the vote.
German lawmakers to face no party whip on gay marriage, Merkel says

The head of the CDU group in the Bundestag, Volker Kauder, called on as many of his colleagues as possible to vote.

Those who reject the idea that same-sex couples should enjoy the full rights of heterosexual marriage should be respectful of others‘ opinions, Kauder added.

Lawmakers from the CDU‘s Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), will also be able to vote freely on introducing gay marriage.

The CSU continues to oppose extending marriage to same-sex couples, the party said after a telephone conference with the party leadership in Munich.

"Nevertheless we have respect and understanding if CSU members of the Bundestag, following their conscience, make a dissenting decision during a vote in the German lower house," a statement from the party said, adding that the party whip had been lifted for the issue.

Rival parties seized on comments made by Merkel on Monday, when she appeared to back away from her party‘s opposition to gay marriage during an interview broadcast on German television.

Merkel said during the interview she was hoping for a discussion on marriage equality that would be conducted with dignity, and called it "a question of conscience."

Following Merkel‘s comments, lawmakers from the SPD and from the opposition Greens and The Left (Die Linke) demanded a vote take place this week.

Martin Schulz, Merkel‘s chief opponent in the race for the chancellory in September‘s elections, said Tuesday his party would push for a parliamentary vote on the issue with or without Merkel and her conservatives.

Schulz, the Social Democratic (SPD) party leader, said his party would present a draft law on marriage equality to the Bundestag this week, the last week of the current parliamentary session.

The SPD would forge ahead and discuss next steps at a meeting on Tuesday, Schulz said, but added that he hoped his coalition partners in the CDU and CSU would cooperate on drafting the law.

Schulz said Merkel had made a move to which he and his party were responding. "We are now taking her at her word," he said.

Schulz appeared to come unstuck when he stumbled on his wording during questioning from the German media and spoke of "marriage with everyone" instead of "marriage for everyone."

"Firstly let me just address ‘marriage with everyone‘: I know quite specific women that I would certainly not marry," he later said.

The CDU and CSU have repeatedly blocked efforts to introduce full marriage equality for same-sex couples despite overwhelming public support for the move.

Same-sex couples are currently able to register civil partnerships in Germany.

A marriage equality law is expected to easily pass, especially now that the conservatives have removed the party whip. The CDU/CSU alliance has said it is explicitly against a vote before the Bundestag elections on September 24.

Parliament‘s judiciary committee has deferred the issue 30 times already.

"There is no need for a rushed decision," Michael Grosse-Broemer, who leads the CDU/CSU group in the Bundestag, said Tuesday.

"Germany has other problems entirely," CDU lawmaker Peter Ramsauer said. "The CDU leadership should take care not to destroy the last conservative values."

 

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