The day after Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage almost every German newspaper cover displayed a rainbow.
“It’s time Mrs Merkel” exclaimed the Green party leader Katrin Goering-Eckhart in one interview. “The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for everyone.”
Pressure is growing on the government here to follow Ireland’s example. Germany has allowed civil partnerships since 2001. And just days after the 22 May Irish referendum they agreed to change the law, to give more equal rights to homosexual couples in such partnerships.
That means they’ll have the same tax status and adoption rights as married couples. As Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman put it, this was “an important milestone in dismantling discrimination and the chancellor is pleased about that”. But, Steffen Seibert added, “same-sex marriages are not a goal of this government”.
Why not? Two years ago a survey for the news magazine Stern revealed 74% of Germans supported gay marriage. Mrs Merkel’s coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), are in favour. So are the Greens.
And in 2013 Stern also surveyed her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) on the issue. Two-thirds of them were in favour.