Merkel’s Coalition Spars Over Equal Rights for Same-Sex Couples

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is squabbling over benefits to same-sex couples as her Free Democrat coalition partners push to lower their taxes to the level imposed on married families.

In Free Democrat Economy Minister Philipp Roesler’s view, “it’s consistent that equal obligations have to be followed by equal rights,” his spokesman, Holger Schlienkamp, told reporters today at a regular government press conference. All FDP ministers have “voiced objections” to wait much longer before giving same-sex couples equal rights, he said.

Bavaria’s Christian Social Union lawmakers including Gerda Hasselfeldt, said they’re skeptical about changing the law. Germany’s constitution grants married couples special protection because they perpetuate life, which is “not the case” with homosexual couples, Hasselfeldt said, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

Germany’s Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe has held as a rule that civil partnerships, a legally recognized union between same-sex partners, must get treatment equal to married couples in tax and pension laws.

The court today ruled that civil partners must be granted the same tax waiver spouses enjoy when acquiring real estate. Last week, the judges said civil partners may not be treated differently from husbands and wives under pension rules applicable for families of public workers.

“The court has made it very clear in its ruling that registered partnerships mustn’t be treated differently from marriages,” openly gay opposition Green party lawmaker Volker Beck said in an e-mailed statement. The court “contradicts the opinions of the CSU almost word for word.”

Schaeuble’s View

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union wants to wait for yet another ruling by the top court before granting same-sex couples the same income tax privileges as married couples, ministry spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said today at the government press conference.

The court has issued similar rulings in recent years covering tax and social securities issues for couples after it said in a 2002 landmark case that the constitution’s protection of the family doesn’t bar the government from recognizing unions between partners of the same sex.

The opposition-controlled upper house of parliament, where states run by Beck’s Greens and the Social Democrats have a majority, have asked to change income-tax rules together with the budget law for 2013. Kothe said that would cost the government around 30 million euros ($37 million).

To contact the reporters on this story: Rainer Buergin in Berlin at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net; Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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