16 Colum. J. Eur. L. 37 (2009)

Mathias Möschel, PhD Candidate, European University Institute (Florence)

In Maruko v. Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bohnen, the European Court of Justice (E. C.J)  handed down its first holding on sexual orientation discrimination which has been hailed as a victory for gay rights. However, only a month later, by stating that life partnerships and marriage are not comparable situations, the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) exposed the limitations inherent in the Maruko  case.

This Article will show how reluctant the German judiciary has been until very recently to extend the rights inherent in marriage under German law to same-sex life partners, thereby disregarding the fact that nowadays the obligations within both institutions are virtually the same. Thus, this Article will argue, the E.C.J.’s holding is heavily dependent on the legal interpretation of samesex partnerships in each Member State where such partnerships exist.

This Article places the matter into the broader context of the discussion over the E.C.J  ‘s alleged (unlawful) extension of Community competences.