Doubts remain

Doubts remain

Plenary hall in the Bundesrat © Michael Kappeler

As expected, the Bundesrat approved "marriage for all" this Friday. Nevertheless, the debate is likely to continue. Bavaria is considering going to Karlsruhe – a look at the religions also shows the spectrum of the discussion.

Actually the mass is read. After the Bundestag, the Bundesrat has now also given the green light for "marriage for all" on Friday in its last session before the summer break. Thus only the signature of the Federal President is missing and the law could come into force. Could – because the matter still has a catch.

The opening of marriage for gay and lesbian couples remains controversial in politics. Specifically, the question is whether the new regulation can get by without a constitutional amendment. The argument: the mothers and fathers of the Basic Law had unspokenly amed that "marriage" meant a union between a man and a woman. Bavaria is therefore considering a so-called standards control lawsuit against "marriage for all".

Alliance calls for court action

The alliance "Demo fur alle" (Demo for all) is also calling for the case to be brought before the Federal Prosecutor's Court. To that end, the initiative, which says it is non-partisan and non-denominational, launched an online petition Wednesday in the hope that the Free State will file a petition in Karlsruhe before the federal election in September. Both Protestants and Catholics belong to the alliance – the leaders of the two churches, however, positioned themselves differently in recent days.

The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, reiterated the rejectionist stance of the Catholic bishops.

And added that he was counting on further discussion of the ie in the Federal Custody Court. There was, Marx said, echoing the speech of then-Pope Benedict XVI. in 2011 before the Bundestag, even in a democratic constitutional state points of reference "which cannot be decided by a majority" and "which cannot be left to so-called social progress". The latter may be correct most of the time, but not all of the time.

The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) welcomed "marriage for all" in principle, but did so in a somewhat more codified form. Shortly before the Bundestag vote last week, the Council of the EKD spoke out in favor of a complete opening of the "legal space" for homosexual life partners, but added – probably with an eye to opponents of "marriage for all" in its own ranks – that on the question of the "design of a legal framework" there were "different receptions in the Protestant regional churches as well as in the worldwide church, which will continue to have their justification".

Different reactions from religious representatives

For the Orthodox Churches in Germany, the Greek Metropolitan Augoustinos, in response to a question from the Catholic News Agency (KNA), stated that they stick to the premise that marriage is "the union of a man and a woman". There are two consequences for community life, the president of the Orthodox Bishops' Conference testified. On the one hand, "we are aware that in pastoral care we will increasingly take care also of the homosexual people who exist in our Church," Augoustinos said.

On the other hand, the civil marriage of a homosexual couple cannot be ignored if one of the two later requests a church wedding with a spouse of the opposite sex. Lesbians who suddenly want to enter into an ecclesiastical covenant for life with a man, or gays who want to do the same with a woman – this case seems somewhat contrived.

Approval came, however, from the Central Council of Jews. "The political signal of 'marriage for all' could also contribute to a higher tolerance for homosexuals, which is not yet present in all parts of society," Central Council President Josef Schuster told the CBA. The Liberal-Islamic Federation expressed similar sentiments, saying it now also wants to advocate that homosexual Muslims can marry "before God".

This is unlikely to meet with much sympathy from the more conservative major Islamic associations. To a statement was ready despite several inquiries only Burhan Kesici of the Islam advice. His succinct statement: "We are following the debate. Islam provides only for marriage between a woman and a man. We continue to hold fast to this."

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