Yet another country takes a step down the road to equality, miles ahead of the U.S.
German lawmakers expanded the rights of same-sex couples Friday, allowing registered domestic partners to adopt each other's children and making rules on splitting up and alimony similar to those for heterosexual marriages.
Parliament's lower house passed the changes drafted by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's center-left government over the objections of opposition conservatives.
"This is a good day for gays and lesbians," Green Party lawmaker Volker Beck told his colleagues. "We are making another step on the long road to equal rights."
The new law stops short of giving homosexuals, who are legally recognized as couples under Germany's domestic partnership law, full rights to adopt children. But if one partner has children or brings them into the partnership, the other partner can now legally adopt them if neither parent objects.
Before registering their partnership, gay couples will be able to get engaged as heterosexuals do, a step granting certain legal rights in Germany, such as the right not to testify against one's partner in court.
Laws on separation, divorce, alimony and division of assets also are being extended to gay couples.
Although Germany does not permit gay marriage, about 5,000 gay couples have registered domestic partnerships under a law supported by Schroeder's government that took effect Aug. 1, 2001.
Sure, it's not marriage, and it's not perfect, but it's more—a lot more—than we've got here at the moment.
Hmmm. I studied German in high school and college. Maybe I should brush up.