Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Ross Haenfler

Relational Format



In 2001, Germany passed the Life Partnership Act (Gesetz über die Eingetragene Lebenspartnerschaft), establishing civil partnerships for same-sex couples. At the time, Germany was a forerunner in the legal recognition of same-sex relationships. Despite the approval of 74% of Germans, same-sex marriage was a fiercely debated topic from 2009 to 2013 in the 17th session of the Bundestag. During this session, the Christian Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, and Free Democratic Party make up the Majority government, and the Social Democratic Party, Alliance 90/the Greens, and the Left made up the Opposition. This thesis uses framing theory to examine what the debate on same-sex marriage looked like in the German context. Specifically, it addresses the impact of party ideology and political alliances on framing themes and frequencies in this session of the Bundestag. My data included 393 paragraphs from 53 official governmental speech acts related to same-sex marriage. From this data, I discovered 21 framing themes - twelve in favor of and nine in opposition to same-sex marriage — in the German debate. Chapter Two explains the context of the debate prior to the start of the 17th session. Chapters Three and Four describe the framing themes and their dynamics of the Opposition parties and the Majority government, respectively. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that all parties had consistent usage of framing themes with the exception of the CDU. It argues that this variation and inconsistency represents the CDU opening up on this issue as a way of trying to synthesize its core traditional values with modern German society.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

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Sociology Commons



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