Marriage for everyone is finally within reach in Germany after 83% of the population came out in favour of it in a representative survey and the pressure on conservative parties in the election campaign increases – a whole 16 years after the neighbouring Netherlands was the first country in the world to open up marriage to same-sex couples in 2001.
Apart from in the Netherlands, in Europe same-sex marriage has so far been made equal to the marriage between a man and a woman in Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Denmark (2012), France (2013), the UK (not including Northern Ireland) (2014), Ireland (2015), Luxembourg (2015) and Finland (2017). That’s only 13 out of the 49 states which are geographically part of Europe, and not even half of the European Union.
The fight for equal rights in Europe is therefore far from over. In a very personal text the slam poetry artist Veronika Rieger writes about the feeling of one’s own love being treated as second-class, and takes a look at the hypocrisy of the arguments people bring up again and again.
Equal, the same, all the same
A guest contribution by Veronika Rieger / 28.6.2017
An excerpt: Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
(1) All persons are equal before the law.
I wake up. Nocturnal shadows, turn to the left, girlfriend asleep. Turn to the right, mobile phone – on: headline, first anniversary of the shooting in the Pulse gay club in Orlando. 49 people are still dead. The world is still turning, I turn onto my back.
Alarm clock is beeping, girlfriend opens her eyes, one eye-opening later the smell of coffee, sentences are slowly getting longer. Subway stations are passing by every minute, soles are stomping the daily grind in high and hollow uni hallways.
Hours of daily grind later, emptying the letter box. Finding the, seriously, fifth wedding invitation for the summer, first get another coffee, open the envelope:
Skim through the over-the-top ornate writing, damn, you really have to send back a reply card, possible answers:
1 I’ll come with pleasure
2 I’ll come with my boyfriend
I can’t deal with option 2 – coffee mugs later way too hyper. Go outside. Call girlfriend, go shopping. On the 983m long walk to the subway, running the gauntlet around glances. Have no smart comeback to those fifteen-year-old idiots’ “Fucking lesbos”. Subway windows again. In the city centre running the gauntlet around glances and canvassing.
I really am politically interested, but never before have I had so bloody little desire to vote. I mean, really, none. Since every party tells me that they are oh so liberal and in favour of it, but no party has made a move in years to really change something, I find parties about as trustworthy as last year’s killer clowns in Westpark.
This stupid wedding invitation still in my handbag.
Right-wing nationalist idiots are still standing in Marienplatz, but apparently they are getting younger. The one in the middle could be the age of my brother. Thinking of my brother, who can’t keep in touch, because he can’t cope with this, because my love is so overwhelming, he says he is not making demands, but what would the people think.
In the subway, being unsolicitedly, uninvitedly prattled at by the man on the opposite bench: Do you two have kids? Are you married?
Reaching into the handbag, cutting myself on the goddamn wedding invitation. Lifeblood on white handmade paper.
The man across from you is still pestering you, too timid to say something, cling onto my hand, I think I want to marry you some day. Want to be able to have your hand in mine, with these bloody damn expensive rings on it, and I want to call you wife and really mean it. I mean, not now, not tomorrow, not this year, but I just want to have the possibility, I mean, some day.
Snapping at this man’s face, with utmost courtesy, that these are very personal questions and that I won’t be answering them. The man keeps talking, says something about no marriage for such people, I am losing my patience.
I don’t want to be told anymore.
The next one to tell me, that my love, or a marriage between same-sex couples, is not natural, can gladly freshen up their biology knowledge about the sex-life of dolphins, monkeys, lions, giraffes, hundreds of birds, hyenas, sheep, creepy-crawlies and what not, but not with me. And incidentally, marriage is nothing natural by the way, but an institution introduced by the state, and therefore about as natural and biological as plastic waste.
And whoever tells me that marriage must be reserved for man and woman, can please explain, if and how the more than ten other biologically recognised combinations of X and Y chromosomes are allowed to tie the knot, and why in particular man and woman, so Mr. XY and Ms. XX should have this privilege compared to all the other bodily genders.
If we are in turn to simply reduce it to procreation, I demand the definitive revocation of the marital status and all official privileges for childless heterosexual couples, which would be the only logical consequence.
If you are going to tell me now that a marriage between two people who love each other and are old enough to testify to that before the state is against God’s will, then you haven’t fully understood the concept of secularisation.
But even for the christian hardliners among the parties I still have something to say:
If you say, that my love is against God’s will, then you are in possession of God’s wisdom. Since only God can be in possession of this wisdom and pass judgement upon mankind, you are claiming to be God yourself, and this blasphemous and thick even the stupid “Christian Democrats” cannot be. But whoever is practicing such a contemptuous asylum policy, has already forfeited their right to Christ’s name.
There are no arguments against marriage of same-sex couples that in this day and age can still have any meaning. But there is one reason for being against it: if you are a homophobic asshole.
I drop all of this right onto the feet of the man in the subway, it falls out of the handbag, big mouth, brain and memory, in between there are flyers by parties that promise the introduction of the “marriage for everyone” before the elections, and the white handmade paper with the little blood stain, that even looks a little like a small heart.
General Act on Equal Treatment (AGG)
§ 1 Purpose of this Act
The purpose of this Act is to prevent or to stop discrimination on the grounds of race or ethnic origin, gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
I am staring at the ceiling above my bed. Turn to the left, girlfriend is sleeping while the TV series is still running. Turn to the right, mobile phone – on: headline: thirty-year-old gay man brutally beaten up in Munich. Next headline: the gay traffic-light men will be lit up again for Gay Pride. My nerves regarding this topic are still dead. The world is still turning, I turn onto my back.
All persons are equal in the eyes of God, they said.
All persons are equal before the law, they said.
It seems, as if 5.6 million Germans are still a little bit less equal than others.