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Tax-break initiative Court decision sparks party debate on same-sex marriage

two women in wedding dresses with arms round each other

Some Christian Democrats now say it is out of date to define marriage as between a man and a woman. 


Many Christian Democrat politicians are no longer behind their party’s 2016 initiative on tax breaks for married couples because they see it as discriminatory towards gay couples, according to the Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

The paper says this week’s historic court decision annulling the result of a popular vote on that initiative has sparked a debate within the centrist party about same-sex marriage. A majority of its parliamentarians now reject the original text of the initiative, which defines marriage as a long-term and legally regulated relationship between a man and a woman.

Christian Democrat Senator Brigitte Häberli told the paper that this view of marriage is “out of date”, while even Senator Peter Hegglin from the party’s conservative wing said it is “no longer relevant” whether a marriage consists of a man and a woman.

If it comes to another vote, many politicians in the party want to make sure that the text of the initiative is changed, writes the paper.

The initiative “For marriage and family – against the marriage penalty” would have reduced the tax burden for married couples, who must file their taxes jointly rather than individually. This can mean a higher tax bill than they would have had as a cohabiting couple without the wedding rings.

It was narrowly defeated by 50.8% to 49.2% in early 2016 after an energetic “No” committee argued that the terms of the initiative would pose an obstacle for same-sex couples hoping to tie the knot someday.

But the Supreme Court this week annulled the result, ruling that the government had failed to provide correct information to voters on the proposal.  Last year, the government admitted the misinformation, saying the number of couples that would be affected was wrongly reported. Instead of the 80,000 married and registered couples that were in line to benefit from reduced taxes, it was 454,000 couples. 

Wrong statistics Historic verdict could force Swiss re-vote on family tax breaks

The Supreme Court has annulled the result of a controversial vote about tax breaks for families – a first in the history of Swiss direct democracy.

This content was published on April 10, 2019 3:23 PM


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