Germany: Merkel's challenger sees quick vote on gay marriage

A day after Angela Merkel said same-sex marriage should be a "decision of conscience", the Social Democrats (SPD) called for a vote on the issue in the Bundestag this week.

Schulz, a Social Democrat (SPD) and the main challenger to Angela Merkel in the upcoming September election, made the comments at a party convention on Sunday. All of the parties she could form a governing coalition with would have made support for same-sex marriage a condition, and by allowing the measure to pass before voters go to the polls, Merkel seems to have removed it as a campaign issue.

He said recognizing same-sex marriage would bring Germany in line with its peers, advancing its leadership role in Europe.

Martin Schulz, chairman of Germany's social democratic SPD party and candidate for chancellor poses on stage during an SPD party congress in Dortmund, western Germany, on Sunday.

Ms. Merkel's challenger from the Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, demanded that the chancellor allow a parliamentary vote, and that is likely to come this week; if it does, the measure is nearly certain to pass.

The SDP politician also accused Merkel of not being hard enough on Trump last month, when she stated that Berlin's post-war partnerships were "to some extent over".

Gay couples can get civil unions in Germany, but still don't have equal adoption rights as their straight counterparts or, obviously, the right to get married.

Merkel has previously rebuffed calls to introduce same-sex marriage, saying: "For me, marriage is a man and a woman living together".

He also laid down gay marriage as a condition for any future coalition involving the SPD.

Mrs Merkel's move risks upsetting the right-wing of her own party, and in particular its deeply conservative Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

"I will sign no coalition deal in which marriage for all is not inscribed", said the 61-year-old, who was rewarded with 10 minutes of applause for his 90-minute speech.

At this week's event, Merkel claimed that a visit to the home of a lesbian couple looking after eight foster children in her constituency in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern had led her to reconsider her position. Asked a similar question four years ago, Dr Merkel said she had "huge difficulties" with the issue.

Voters initially flocked to the SPD when Mr Schulz, 61, the former European parliament president, was announced as its leader in January.


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