Why this story matters:
This fall, Romanians are likely to follow in the footsteps of dozens of countries which have decided to change the legal definitions of family amid a global debate over marriage rights for gay people.But, where those other attempts -- failed or otherwise -- aimed to broaden narrow definitions, Romanians will be asked if theirs should not be honed in.
But, where those other attempts -- failed or otherwise -- aimed to broaden narrow definitions, Romanians will be asked if theirs should not be honed in.
It seems someone has picked up on a constitutional workaround for bans on same-sex marriages and civil unions in Romania, a country with more than 90 percent Christians.
As it stands, the constitution says that “the family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses, on their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children”.
The Romanian government wants that first bit changed so that it reads: “The family is founded on the freely consented marriage between a man and a woman”.
And it would seem that the Romanian government is in something of a hurry to have that loophole patched up.
Bucharest has pushed for new laws that say any vote to change the constitution would have to be held on a Sunday within 30 days of the referendum being approved by parliament.
Do you smell something fishy?
I do -- and it is coming from the leader of the governing centre-left Social Democratic Party Liviu Dragnea, who says he wants the process fast tracked so that the decision to change the constitution is made by Romanians and “not by somebody else”.
I call bullshit.
Now hear me out -- while I agree that 30 days is really not enough time to organise a half-decent campaign for or against the constitutional changes, meaning there would be no influencing or manipulating of public opinion, which might be what Dragnea meant when he said he wanted Romanians to decide for themselves:
One -- in what world is a public debate a bad thing? Should the “yes” and “no” camps not get their chance to educate the less-informed among the voters, or the voters the chance to be educated? Should campaigners' voices be muted? Is freedom of expression not at the heart of democracy, which underpins the European Union to which Romania belongs?
And two -- while 30 days is pretty limited time to come up with clever slogans and expensive billboards, holding a referendum on a Sunday does mean that one voice would be heard loud and clear -- that of Christian clergy preaching from the pulpit.
Regardless of whether the referendum law is changed, if a referendum is held at all, and what its result is, I wonder how this news will play out for Romania, whose government has clearly gone against the flow of the European Union, which stands firmly for democracy, rule of law, freedom and speech, and #equality?
And here are some more fun facts:
- Romanian Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said he "definitely" backs the referendum to change the constitution.
- His coalition party leader Ludovic Orban is a strong supporter of Christian values and says God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman.
- Ludovic Orban is not related to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban but his father was ethnically Hungarian.
Details from the story:
- Romania's Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea says a referendum to change the constitution, making same-sex marriage illegal, could be held as early as this fall if new legal changes are passed
- Dragnea says those changes aim to ensure that Romanians will decide in the referendum and "not somebody else"
- Asked if the move would send a negative signal to the European Union, Dragnea said: "I am interested in giving a very serious signal inside the country because I am still Romanian, I will remain Romanian, I am interested in this decision being taken by Romanians, not by somebody else".