The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled that treating the two forms of partnership differently for tax purposes violates the country’s guarantee of equal rights. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right government had long resisted granting the same tax benefits to gay couples in civil unions. Those unions — officially certified by a notary and carrying similar rights and duties to wedlock — are widely accepted by Germany’s gay community as equivalent to marriage. Married couples in Germany are able to jointly declare their taxable incomes, which can significantly lower their overall tax burden especially when one partner has higher pay. The rule costs the government annually about 15.5 billion euros ($20 billion).
While it’s not marriage, it’s a significant advance that will have a positive financial effect for many same sex couples in Germany.