Here's A Look Back At Three Decades Of Struggle For German Marriage Equality

Marriage equality finally came to Germany after decades of struggle on Friday.

In a historic step, Germany's parliament overwhelmingly voted on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, granting full marital rights to gay and lesbian couples and clearing the path for them to adopt children.

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Here is a timeline of events that led to marriage equality becoming a reality in the country.

Start of the 1980s

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Gay groups in East Germany begin their demands for legal recognition for marriage equality.

End of the 1980s

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Three leaders in the LGBT community, Volker Beck, Günter Dworek and Manfred Bruns, publish a number of papers in which they demand equal rights. For the first time in West Germany, a legal construct for same-sex couples appeared within these papers. Beck, Dworek and Bruns considered the ban on same-sex marriage a serious discrimination. They emphasize that it's important for gay and lesbian partnerships to be recognized in order for homosexuals to become more broadly accepted in the society.


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Denmark becomes the first country in the world to introduce registered civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

Summer 1991

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The SVD, the Gay Men's Federation in Germany (now the Lesbian and Gay Federation), publishes, together with the "Gay Lawyers", a draft bill on "the introduction of the right for people of the same gender to marry."

August 19, 1992

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A movement called Operation Registry Office begins garnering attention, as 250 gay and lesbian couples across the country enter applications for marriage.

May 14, 1997

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For the first time, a formal consultation upon the legal recognition of gay and lesbian civil unions takes place in the German parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs.

September 27, 1998

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Demands for legal recognition of same-sex couples and an anti-discrimination law are included in the coalition agreement between the SPD and the Greens after the German parliamentary election.

August 24, 1999

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Activists organize a gay and lesbian wedding procession, from the parliamentary building to the Chancellor's office, to remind Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of his election promises.

November 10, 2000

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The German parliament passes the Civil Partnerships Act. For activists like as the LSVD and politicians like Volker Beck, it's the first part of their goal reached after years of lobbying.

April 1, 2001

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The Netherlands become the first country in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry.

August 1, 2001

The German Civil Partnerships Act enters into force. A few months earlier, Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia had filed constitutional complaints. Using an urgent motion, they had wanted to prevent the Civil Partnerships Act entering into force on August 1st, but their appeal failed in the Federal Constitutional Court. This gave the green light on July 18th, 2001, for the Civil Partnerships Act to enter into force about two weeks later.

January 1, 2005

The Act for the Revision of the Civil Partnerships Act enters into force. This removes, among other things, the differences between civil partnerships and marriage in civil law, permits the adoption of the partner's biological children and puts civil partners on an equal footing with spouses in regard to the statutory pension for surviving dependents.

July 7, 2009

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The Federal Constitutional Court makes a landmark decision on marriage, families and civil partnerships and helps makes a breakthrough on equality. The Inheritance Tax Reform, entered into force a few months earlier, gave registered civil partnerships equal tax-free allowances.


Ten years after the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Act, Baden-Württemberg, a southwestern state bordering France and Switzerland, becomes the last federal state to decide that civil partnerships can be entered into at registry offices.


The Constitutional Court rules in favor of the equal treatment of civil partnerships in regard to land transfer taxation and family allowances.

February 2013

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The Federal Constitutional Court rules that the ban on the co-adoption of an adopted child (successive adoption) which applies to registered civil partnerships is unconstitutional.

The reasoning: "No differences exist between a marriage and a registered civil partnership which could justify the unequal structure of the adoption opportunities."

March 22, 2013

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The German Federal Council votes for the opening up of marriage equality. The federal states forward proposed legislation to the German parliament.

June 6, 2013

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The Federal Constitutional Court publishes its verdict on the splitting of income taxation for registered civil partnerships. It demands equality in taxation law and orders an amendment, with retrospective effect back to August 1st, 2001. The principle of equality applies to all citizens, irrespective of their sexual identity.

September 9, 2013

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During an election discussion on ARD, Angela Merkel said she had doubts about full adoption rights for same-sex couples. "To be quite honest, I find total equality problematic (...) I'm unsure where the best interests of a child are concerned," she said.

January 12, 2017

Die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung ist für die #Ehefüralle. Für eine sofortige Abstimmung ohne Fraktionszwang im Deutsche…

According to a survey conducted by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency, 83% of citizens are in favor of marriage equality.

June 17, 2017

Bundestagswahl: Grüne machen #Ehefüralle zur Koalitionsbedingung

At their party conference, the Greens make marriage equality a condition for coalition in the upcoming elections.

June 24, 2017

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Christian Lindner, chairman of the FDP party, tells the WAZ newspaper: "I will recommend to my party that marriage equality is enshrined for the parliamentary election as a condition for coalition."

June 25, 2017

Wir werden die Ehe für alle beschließen. Diese Woche.

At the SPD's party conference, its candidate for the Chancellorship Martin Schulz promises he won't sign any coalition agreement which doesn't incorporate marriage equality.

June 26, 2017

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Chancellor Merkel suggests a free vote in parliament as a matter of conscience for the members of parliament, rather than a party-line vote.

June 27, 2017

Angela Merkel hat für die von der SPD verlangte Abstimmung über die #Ehefüralle den Fraktionszwang in der Union aufgehoben.

The CDU and CSU remove the compulsory unanimity in voting. The members of parliament can decide as individuals how they will vote.

June 28, 2017

+++ Breaking +++ Ja zur Ehe für Alle im Rechtsausschuss des Bundestages.

The German parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs recommends by majority that marriage should be opened up for same-sex couples.

June 30, 2017

Bundestag stimmt mit Ja: Homosexuelle Paare dürfen bald auch in Deutschland heiraten. #EheFuerAlle

The Federal Parliament votes to legalize marriage equality. Once German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier signs the bill into law later this year, same-sex couples in Germany will be officially allowed to marry.

This post was translated from German.