German Court Improves Adoption Laws
Germany's Constitutional Court today ordered the government to draft new laws allowing same-sex couples improved adoption rights. Via Der Spiegel:
The Constitutional Court ruled as expected that one member of a civil partnership must be given the right to adopt their partner's stepchild or adopted child. Until now, unlike heterosexual married couples, they were only able to adopt a partner's biological child. The court ordered Berlin to draft new legislation by next June. It said the German constitution does not justify ruling out one partner adopting the other's adopted child. The previous law was not only detrimental to the child, it also breached the rights of same-sex couples to equal treatment, said presiding judge Ferdinand Kirchhof. "Same-sex partnerships can be as beneficial to the happiness of a child as a marriage," he said. The judges based their decision on expert opinions that deemed that such adoptions could provide what the court called a "stabilizing psychological effect," as well as benefiting children in terms of both child support and inheritance rights.The Associated Press notes that the court's order doesn't go far enough.
Though the ruling means that same-sex couples can now adopt the same child on an individual basis, they still cannot adopt children together as a couple. Germany's main gay rights group called for that to be changed after the ruling. In a separate case, the court is considering whether gay partnerships should be granted the tax breaks given to married couples; it's unclear when a ruling will come. "Today's decision marks a historic step finally to put rainbow families in Germany on a comprehensive, secure legal footing," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said. "Full adoption must be the next step."A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the government views the court's ruling "with great respect" and will work to implement it. German gay couples have been able to register as domestic partners since 2001, but unlike much of Europe, little progress has been made towards full marriage equality. (Tipped by JMG readers Harrison and Bruce)