In what is being characterized as a setback to the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany's highest court has ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same tax benefits granted to married straight couples.
The verdict requires a change in the law and is a red rag to some in Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and its traditionally Catholic Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), who worry that conservative values are being diluted. The ruling was widely expected after the court in February overturned a ban on same-sex couples adopting a child already adopted by one of the partners. "The provisions set out in the income-tax law violate the general rule of equality," wrote the Karlsruhe-based court, adding the law should be changed retroactively from August 2001. Same-sex partnerships have been legal in Germany since 2001 but do not enjoy the same tax benefits as married heterosexuals.Openly gay Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle hailed the ruling, saying that the time has come "for German tax law to be as modern as its society." A spokesman for the Christian Social Union party denounced the news as an attack on the "sanctity of marriage." (Tipped by JMG reader Matthew)