It won’t solve the European economic crisis, but the German constitutional court has granted gay and lesbian couples the same tax status as heterosexual married couples.
Last week, the court ruled that same-sex pairs in a registered partnership are exempt from land-transfer tax, just as straight married couples are. While marriage equality is not legal in Germany—and LGBT couples face inequalities in income tax and other areas—even members of Chancellor Merkel’s conservative CDU Party spoke in favor of this status change: “The suggestion comes at exactly the right time,” said Minister for Family Affairs Kristina Schroder. “In homosexual partnerships, people take long-term responsibility for each other. They are living conservative values.”
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, however, said at a recent news conference that he does not see an urgent need to revise the country’s tax laws and members of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria are outspoken in their opposition. “The marriage of man and woman is under special protection because it is fundamentally oriented toward creating new life,” said CSU member Gerda Hasselfeldt.
The Liberal Democrats—who, along with the CSU and CDU—comprise Germany’s coalition government—have long supported full equality for LGBT couples. Former Liberal Democrats head Guido Westerwelle, now German Foreign Minister, came out in 2004 and is in a registered partnership with husband Michael Mronz (photo above).