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Westerwelle blasted over partner's travel

DPA/The Local · 10 Mar 2010, 08:15

Published: 10 Mar 2010 08:15 GMT+01:00

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But Westerwelle dismissed suggestions that Mronz was using the trip for his own gain.

Although his partner is paying his own way according to Westerwelle, his presence has raised questions about his access to key people via the minister.

Mronz is an event manager who is active in the sports industry and Brazil, which is part of Westerwelle's South American trip. The country is hosting the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games 2016.

“For me, the demands of German business interests overseas are a foreign policy priority because it is about German jobs,” Westerwelle said. “That’s why it’s good that a high-ranking business delegation accompanies me.”

“I’m happy that Mr Mronz is taking the time to accompany me at his own cost in order to inform himself about, and engage in, social projects in the region. We want that and we’ll continue doing it.”

Mronz, who is also a director of the charity Ein Herz für Kinder, told daily Bild: “Whenever I have the time, I would always like to accompany Mr Westerwelle on his trips, to engage with social programmes for children.

“I would like to campaign for the most vulnerable of the world’s citizens, the children. Precisely because we have no children of our own, I like to have a heart for children.”

Donors to Westerwelle’s Free Democrats are also travelling with the minister.

Story continues below…

Former Foreign Minister and now opposition Social Democrats parliamentary leader Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told TV channel N24: “The fact that a foreign minister travels with a delegation is fine and proper. One should nevertheless avoid the wrong impressions.”

His wife had occasionally accompanied him on trips, usually to European Union events to which partners were specifically invited.

Thomas Oppermann, SPD parliamentary group whip, also raised concerns about the trip. ''I have serious doubts whether Westerwelle is actually qualified to be foreign minister,” he told the Rheinische Post daily. “We’re getting the impression that he's not up to the job.”

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:00 March 10, 2010 by dbert4
Lets not geet stupid about this, the guy is the head of a charity, " Ein Herz für Kinder". He isn't traveling to enrich himself.
12:14 March 10, 2010 by William Thirteen
"a rather desperate attempt to throw some mud" is exactly what it is. I doubt if this would be an issue if it was Frau Westerwelle instead of Herr Mronz. There are enough arguments to be had about Westerwelle's policies and performance without having to stoop to such behaviour. No wonder the SPD continues to hemorrhage members....
12:28 March 10, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Even if there is nothing 'illegal' going on, it just looks and smells bad, and detracts from the real government purpose of the trip. They shoud just avoid all behavior that even appears suspicious. It's really not all that difficult.
12:32 March 10, 2010 by FrankSchreier
To freechoice: as long as your homo-hating Republican kind remain "at lost for words", it might be even tolerable to have you around - online, I mean, only online - please keep your living hatred across the pond ("gay=paedophile" might sell in Arkansas or Florida but in Europe we got rid of that a while ago).

To The Local: the fact that you refer to the Minister's spouse as "lover" shows that as a media outlet you have failed to identify writers with an internalized and subtle homophobia. You might say that you have no problems with "the gays" but refusing to treat gay spouses as you treat other spouses shows that you don't consider being gay normal. Are you sure you are based in Sweden and not Texas?
13:50 March 10, 2010 by Portnoy
Mronz and Westerwelle aren't married.
14:19 March 10, 2010 by FrankSchreier
Not another one...


Marriage for "the gays" is not legal in Germany (thanks to the CSU) so the term "husband" (Ehemann) doesn't apply, which I haven't.

What we have is a type of legal (second-class) union called "registered partnership" where the word "partner" or "spouse" (Mann, Frau) applies. In addition, there are non-registered partnerships, where the word "partner" applies.

"Lover" is a word to describe an adventure, an affair, a frequent even romantic sexual encounter. "Lover" does not describe a long-term committed relationship (not that you would think that would be even remotely possible between "those gays", of course, dear GOP rep).

I expect Republicans, regular homophobes and Fox News to dumb down the issue of equality by resorting to conventional conservative christian rhetoric. I expect some people like you who enter this forum to perpetuate homophobic stereotypes.

But I guess I expected (or wanted to expect) more from The Local.

It seems that at this point of the discussion The Local has noticed my comment ant has changed the second paragraph from:

"Although his lover is paying his own way according to Westerwelle..."


"Although his partner is paying his own way according to Westerwelle..."

An official correction would have been more honest and professional, but the change is good enough.
14:32 March 10, 2010 by Portnoy
They aren't in a registered partnership, either.
15:44 March 10, 2010 by whatzup
Just for the record FrankSchreier opposition to "gay" marriage has nothing necessarily to do with homophobia. Some folks merely think that the very idea of "gay marriage" is absurd on its face, all the current politically correct propaganda to the contrary. As for Westerwelle's political problem in this affair it will be interesting to see how much he and his party suffer for this indiscretion.
00:15 March 11, 2010 by FrankSchreier
There are many degrees of homophobia, just like with most things in life.

Homophobia is the rejection of people attracted to their same sex. The rejection can be simply emotional or ideological. The degree of rejection depends on the intensity of the negative emotion towards gays or the depth (ir lack thereof) of the thoughts behind the rejection.

Just because one doesn't advocate prision time or death penalty or discrimination against gays doesn't mean he or she (or you) is not a homophobe. To think of gays as not normal is a basic form of homophobia, even when it does not advocate the persecution of gays.

If "some folks merely think that the very idea of "gay marriage" is absurd on its face", those "folks" (it seems that you were too afraid to admit you are one of them) need to think why they:

1. claim it to be absurd - do they think that gays are less than normal?

2. especially "on its face", as it was some kind of evident knowledge and not part of their ideological or emotional reasons.

You have mentioned twice the "gay marriage". I have never advocate a "gay marriage" as a special and separate institution. What I, like most people of common sense and decency in the 21st. Century, advocate is marrigae equality, which will grant access to gays to a natural instituion that had existed long before religions hijacked it as its own creation.

If you are going to get into this discussion, don't you think a little bit honesty would be in order? It might be hard to ask that from a conservative christian or a "good old-fasion family values mainstream republican", but I hope there is a chance that you define your position as yours and that you don't twist other people's words.

And let's call an apple an apple.
05:17 March 11, 2010 by Thames

You indicated that marriage is a natural institution that existed before religion hijacked it.

I would be interested to know if any pre 20th Century Cultures had marriage between people of the same sex?
11:07 March 11, 2010 by FrankSchreier
Natural marriage existed long before states were organized and recognized this natural institution as a civil one. This acknowledged by all historians and theologians.

Civil marriage developed along with the societies that sanctioned it, developing a commercial nature where the spouse was seen as an "asset" and adultery as "robbery". There are no accounts of civil marriages between people of same sex, but civil marriage is a dynamic institution and has never remained unchanged (interracial marriage was forbidden in the USA as late as 40 years ago.) Marriage equality belongs to this type of marriage and could be easily understood and accepted if people would learn to differentiate between civil and religious marriage. The sad and funny issue is that most people already do: they accept the dissolution of the civil marriage or divorce which is forbidden or at least frowned upon by many christian churches. It is only when it comes to expansion of the civil marriage to include gays that they seem to blur the lines.

Religious marriage, as a sacrament or not, is part of a 2000 year-old history and it should be entitled to exist as part of freedom of religion, but not as "the" institution of a society that no longer bows to the Pope. Christian churches have the right to define their sacrament as they pleased, but have no right to define what the state that represent pluralist societies acknowledges as civil marriage. The line must be drawn more clearly and every time the church gets on its soap box and acts hollier-than-thou, it must be reminded of its past actions regarding marriage, where it "annulled" marriage of the powerful and performed or promoted marriages between "nobility" or "royalty" where one of the parts (of the opposite sex) was just a child, simple because of power negotiations.

At the end, the issue between "marriage" and "gay" boils down to only one issue: do you consider it normal to be gay or not?

If the answer is yes, then there is no reason for you not to support the inclusion of gays into civil marriage.

If the answer is no, then you have to ask yourself what brought you to

1) think so low of gay people,

2) think that other people have to live their lives according to your believes.

When many people hear "homophobia" they react offended, as if they were so morally superior as if to allow any kind of hatred. They ignore that fact that:

1) "hate" is defined simply as the intense rejection of something or somebody,

2) there are degrees of hatred, from an active, aggressive, often violent behaviour, all the way to a subdued, dignified but mortified attitude.

In the last few years, where the issue has been debated, I have seen little honesty from people about this central and essential issue, and as long as it keeps being ignored, the debate will keep going in circles: do you consider it normal to be gay or not?
03:08 March 12, 2010 by Thames

While I disagree with your opinions on state sanction of same sex marriage,

I appreciate your well thought out and well presented arguments.

You make many excellant points regarding marriage between royals and exceptionally young children with adults.

Based on your presentation I plan to research the issue further.
03:15 March 12, 2010 by whatzup
Sounds like the honesty you seek FrankSchreier is complete agreement with your opinion. No one I know hates gay people. A better word would be pity as homosexuals are confused about one of life's most important propostions: sex. A lot of people are against gay marriage because they don't want to degrade the institution of marriage by turning it into a joke ie. men marrying me or women marring women. From their point of view it cheapens their own marriage. And to put this point into further context, if Mr. Westerwelle is confused about the basic facts of life how in heavens name can he be trusted with a foreign minister's portfolio? And now the current controversy regarding his "lover". Could it be the minister and his job are heading for estrangement in the not too distant future?
13:07 March 12, 2010 by FrankSchreier
Thames: thank you for your respectful disagreement and honest discussion of the issue.

I can respect your position and we can continue this dialogue because you have shown respect and honesty, unlike "whatzup" who shows a lot of dishonesty when he

1) accuses me of intolerance when it is obvious that I am open to a dialogue, as long as it's honest (which he is not)

2) attributes to others his feelings and opinion

3) denies being a homophobe but says that gays are "confused" and that their presence would "degrade" and "cheapen" an institution and turn it into a "joke",

4) disqualifies gay people to do jobs simply because of their sexual orientation

Maybe where "whatzup" comes from people can spew such insults and deny at the same time animosity. He can have that world. I have nothing to discuss with somebody with suboptimal intelligence and weak moral fiber because they just go in circles without explaining their thoughts (because they are too simplistic) and owning their positions. These people are intellectually handicapped and morally coward, and as far as I am concerned they can keep their ways even outside their country, as long they spare me their primitivism.

But with you Thames I could talk, and I would like to ask a coupke of questions so I can better understand your position:

1. what are your disagreements and position on civil marriage?

2. do you think being gay is a normal quality?
15:51 March 12, 2010 by whatzup
I can answer that question - aberrations like homosexuality are an absolutely normal occurrence in life, like color blindness or a frog with three legs. That doesn't mean that the condition should be celebrated or viewed as anything else but an unfortunate disability. Homosexuality is certainly not the fault of the afflicted who suffer from a depressed quality of life, even an earlier death than the straight population. Studies suggest gay men are at a higher risk of dying than smokers or the obese, up to 20 years earlier than their heterosexual counterparts from AIDs and unhealthy drug and sex practices.

Sure being gay is normal in a sense but so is being sick. I wouldn't want to be either. Should gays be allowed to marry? I'm all for civil partnerships for 2 people of the same sex but lets reserve, celebrate and honor marriage as the ideal for people who have the possibility to raise their own children. Society and the kids themselves will be better off for it.

By the way FrankSchreier please save your insulting terminology for other discussion forums. Using it simply underlines your poor english writing skills and alienates people who are here to discuss issues in a serious way.

Good luck to you.
21:24 March 12, 2010 by kazka
Didn't anyone realize that this whole thing is an insult to women? When women accompany politicians on trips, everyone figures they just go along for the fun and glamour. Critics keep saying Mronz is a "businessman", so it's different. Could anyone out there consider the fact that women partners use these trips for business contacts, too??? It's nothing new. They just happen to be 2 guys.
05:10 March 15, 2010 by Thames
Comment: @FrankSchreier I believe the government has an obligation to the general welfare of the people and as such should establish institutions that further those ends. Marriage like any other right is not an absolute right. The government provides special benifits for marriage for the purpose of promoting a social good. Unlike, say a business partnership this type of union has a special place in society. Much of this comes from Christian tradition. Just because something has Christian roots does not mean a secular state should abolish it. However, even in a secular society marriage holds a unique postion. Most people who conclude a business merger might go out for drinks but few I know have relatives from all over come to celebrate. The good that the government seeks to promote is procreation and the raising of children. Marriage hopefully creates a stable enviorment to raise and educate children.Parents should raise children not the state. In most cases parents have a much greater interest in the children than the government. A marriage should be open to procreation. Children continue the cycle of life, when the parents are old they can help to care for them as the parents had cared for them when they were children. Without children societies die. The West is a great example without immigration the majority of western nations are losing population. No matter how much people of the same sex care for each other they can not procreate. As far as Gay being a normal quality. A true scientific study of these things is nearly impossible. People are often not sure of their own feelings. They also may not tell the truth for various reasons. Kinsey's studies seemed to be very flawed. Given my experineces, I can only speak to that, I would say that people who are soley attracted to the same sex is relatively rare and there are some who are attracted to both. In short, and with respect to those with those feelings, I would say having a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex is is not normal. The main but certainly not the only purpose of the sex drive is to encourage procreation homosexual activity fails to do this. The anotomical structure of the human body is designed for sex between male and female only.
22:31 May 26, 2010 by ketukher
this is .very Occasionally, I accompany my husband on his business trips. I pay my own expenses which means I even pick up some of his that his company would have coveredLa Martina
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