German civil union partnerships are now de facto equal to marriages.
The biggest complaint of the German LGBT movement about the civil union partnerships was that it didn’t have the same tax rules as for married couples, not allowing for a joint tax return for instance, with the effect that many civil union couples ended up paying more taxes than married couples of a comparable socio-economic situation.
While the conservative party leading the federal government has resisted efforts by its smaller liberal coalition partner to amend the tax law, the tax agencies of all the states (in Germany the states are tasked with the execution of federal law, including tax law) have agreed on treating civil union couples the same way they do married couples. There had been some tax court cases that were pointing in that directions already.
This is a major step!
(I’m surprised though that no newspaper seemed to have reported on this, except for a conservative newspaper. It’s a shame these issues don’t get more attention)
EDIT: Not to give the wrong impression though: income tax equality is a major step, but there are still two major areas, in which civil union partners are not equal to married couples:
- inheritance law: the amount that is exempted from the inheritance tax varies.
- adoption law: effectively, civil union partners are treated as singles by the adoption agencies and hence almost always end up at the bottom of the list of acceptable adoptive parents.