Katherina Reiche, a state secretary for Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), laid her cards on the table on Tuesday, telling Bild newspaper that Germany’s future “lies in the hands of families, not in same-sex partnerships.”
What she called, “this demographic development”, was “next to the euro crisis, the biggest threat to German prosperity.”
Merkel’s Union must, Reiche added, “clearly state that it backs the idea of family, children and marriage, and that society is not held together by small groups but from a stable centre.”
Her comments come as the government is caught up in a debate about whether to give gay partnerships the same legal status as traditional marriages.
Certain critics, local paper the Berliner Zeitung said, have revelled in pointing out the hypocrisy in the fact that Reiche herself had two of her three children out of wedlock, while others have taken to Facebook to air their disappointment.
And despite Reiche taking her own Facebook page down after it was flooded with angry comments, some 6,000 gay marriage supporters have moved to a group made specifically for the Berlin-based politician, called No Future with Katherina Reiche.
The webpage is full of members calling Reiche a homophobe and links to an open letter addressed to the 39-year-old, which expresses the disappointment of many in Germany’s gay community.
“We expected more from you, because thanks to your illegitimate children you know that 21st century family does not automatically mean “husband + wife + children,” the letter says. “Your statements are a slap in the face for all families that do not conform to your idea of normal.”
It ends, “Ms Reiche, you do not see a future for a Germany in which homosexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals and we do not see a future for you in 21st century German politics.”
The author’s suggestion about Reiche’s future in parliament may not be totally unfounded, as a number of her fellow CDU politicians have spoken out about her views on gay marriage. One even tweeted that she had “gone too far.”
Attracting future voters could prove tricky in her constituency in Potsdam, where the young Christian Democrats issued a press release saying they were disappointed in the politician.
The Bild interview served to shine a brighter light on the current split in the CDU over gay partnerships, and suggests that it could be getting personal, as Reiche’s boss – Environment Minister Peter Altmaier – is known for living alone, unmarried, with no children.
A writer for the taz left-wing newspaper has called on Altmaier to come out, while he has refused to speak about his sexuality, telling Stern magazine on Thursday, he was happy living alone, and refused to be, “defined by my sexual identity.”