BUCHAREST, Romania, August 25, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-marriage constitutional amendment continues to be stalled in the Romanian legislature despite politicians’ promises to pass the bill.
In May, lawmakers in the lower house of parliament passed an amendment that specified marriage is the union of one man and one woman and also strengthening the rights of parents.
“The family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman, their full equality and the right and duty of parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of children,” the proposed amendment reads.
Although its authors clearly intended the Romanian constitution to support heterosexual, monogamous marriage, it is not specific enough for the modern era because it refers to marriage as a union between two “spouses.”
Though the recognition of same-sex unions was defeated at the ballot box in 2013, sodomy was decriminalized in 2001.
The vote in the “Chamber of Deputies” in favor of a constitutional mandate was a 232-22 landslide with 13 abstentions. Next stop was the Senate, where two committees (Human Rights and Equality) approved of the amendment.
But it has sat there since the end of May. The official status is “at work in the standing commissions of the Senate.”
Even though the two largest political parties, the Social Democrats and the Liberals, pledged their support in writing, politicians are dragging their feet to finish the job.
“The amendment is currently being ping-ponged around various committees in the Romanian Senate,” Romanian student Radu Parvulescu told LifeSiteNews. “There likely won’t be any more done on this until the Senate returns from recess on the 31st of August.”
Parvulescu added that committee votes are not binding and so they is no guarantee of the amendment passing the Senate. If it does pass the entire Senate, then after 30 days the amendment goes to a nationwide referendum where the people will decide.
At least 30 percent of citizens 18 and older must participate in the referendum, but the census total from which the 30 percent participation requirement is taken has been inflated in the past.
“There have been controversies in previous referendums with out-of-date voter lists that included the deceased, whose non-voting is important because it contributes to the participation threshold,” he explained.
Furthermore, even if participation levels are high and it passes the people’s vote by a wide margin, Parvulescu says its future is not certain.
“It’s unclear whether a popular referendum is actually binding because the Constitution doesn’t specify a timeframe for its outcome to be acted upon or who can enforce a referendum result,” Parvulescu said.
He pointed out that in 2009 a constitutional referendum passed that mandated parliamentary changes, but the changes were never implemented.
“Even if the amendment gets through parliament and a majority of people vote to change the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, there is still no guarantee that the constitution will be amended,” he said.
“A ‘yes’ vote will only make it harder for parliament to do nothing because so much time, effort, and media attention has been on this issue, and the ball will be in the legislature’s court.”
The amendment is the culmination of a two year effort by the Coalition for the Family (CFF). The pro-life group fought for approval in the Constitutional Court of Romania, and got it in 2016. The court gave its stamp of approval on the amendment, declaring that it met all constitutional demands.
CFF then initiated a major grassroots signature drive for people to sign their support for a constitutional amendment. In order for it to be considered, they needed 500,000 signatures.
With the strong vocal backing of the country’s majority religion, the Romanian Orthodox Church, CFF wound up garnering 3.1 million signatures, more than six times what was needed.
Orthodox leaders rallied the citizenry to stand up for normal marriage and the family. Patriarch Daniel said his Orthodox faithful — which constitutes more than 85 percent of the population — “must support the Church’s effort to protect the natural, traditional and universal family, and resist some new family models that consider the natural woman-man union only one model among others.”
Assisting with the effort were Christian Evangelicals and Catholics. Lending support were the Alliance Defending Freedom International, Liberty Counsel, and the European Center for Law and Justice.
“This is a historic moment,” CFF’s Mihai Gheorghiu described the citizens’ legislative initiative, characterizing the three million-plus signatures “an unprecedented show of solidarity.”
The amendment has its enemies, including U.S. liberal politicians, the Western media, members of the European Parliament, and foreign non-government organizations (NGOs).
In February, 37 Democrats in the U.S. Congress signed a letter condemning the pro-marriage amendment, demanding that the “referendum not be allowed to proceed.”
In May, 28 members of the European Parliament signed a similar letter to the Romanian government telling them not to support the citizens’ initiative, claiming it was not in keeping with their commitment to human rights because it would “incite discrimination against families in their various forms.”
Not long after, the European Association for the Defense of Human Rights announced its opposition in a press release, defaming the Coalition for the Family as “ultraconservative religious militants” and accusing them of “hate speech” and of “erod(ing) the democratic foundations of the societies.”
Suffering under nearly half a century of atheistic communism and oppression brought about a sharp decline in large families, so much so that Romania’s future is in jeopardy.
The historically Orthodox Christian nations of Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia all enshrine marriage in their constitutions as the union of one man and one woman.