The top court in Germany ruled on Thursday that same-sex couples in civil unions must receive the same tax benefits as different-sex married couples.
The court ruled that treating these couples differently violates the country’s guarantee of equal protection, inevitably leading to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. (Well, yeah.)
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), although it estimates that extending the same right to the country’s some 27,000 civil unions will only add about 30 million euros to the bill.
The court acknowledged that married couples enjoy special privileges because the partners also accept a strong responsibility for each other, including financial, but it argued that the civil union implies the same duties and responsibilities for gay partners.
This is actually a huge deal. The financial element of marriage inequality affects millions of people, and Germany has taken a huge step for the rest of the world by acting on it. The U.S. needs to follow suit.