UPDATED. March 23rd, 2017. Reverse chronology of the Romanian referendum to enshrine in the Constitution the definition of marriage as man-woman union

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UPDATE: The end of March 2017 is expected to bring a ruling of the Constitutional Court of Romania on a petition filed by a homosexual couple residing in Romania and married abroad:

A homosexual couple married abroad claims the Romanian state infringes upon their right to family life

 

March 13th, 2017

– Asked whether he supported the civil partnership bill, which would allow homosexual unions to be approved by the Romanian state, Premier Sorin Grindeanu answered:

I have signed, I am one of the three million signatories [ed. note – of the citizens’ initiative to protect natural family in the Constitution]

The journalist insisted that the question was not about the referendum initiative, but about the civil partnership bill. Premier Grindeanu repeated and clarified his answer:

I have signed for the other party. I am more traditionalist myself.

In the meantime, the legislative battle goes on to appove civil unions for homosexual persons. Read here about the tremendous unofficial pressure and backstage coups surrounding this bill.

– Raluca Turcan, interim president of the National Liberal Party (PNL), stated that she and her party supports the citizens’ initiative to define marriage as between one man and one woman, but she also said the liberals shall continue to support [at the plenary vote] the Andronache amendment [despite the fact that Dep. Andronache had admitted before, at the session of the Comittee for legal Matters, that he had filed the amendment on his own and not in the name of the party]. Nevertheless, she admitted that members of her party have always been free to vote according to their conscience.

Read more here about this controversial PNL amendment to the citizens referendum initiative.

March 7th, 2017

– The Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies approved the citizens’ referendum initiative and sent recommendation for approval to the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies.

The comittee also rejected the amendment to the citizens’ initiative filed by Dep. Gabriel Andronache (PNL). All his party colleagues in the committee voted against the amendment, forcing him to admit that he had filed the amendment on his own and not in the name of the National Liberal Party (PNL).

Dep. Ioan Cupşa (PNL) said the amendment „would make unconstitutional the whole text of the [fundamental] law”.

Committee chairman Eugen Nicolicea (PSD) warned that the amendment „would have completely distorted the meaning of the citizens’ initiative”.

Liviu Dragnea, President of the Chamber of Deputies, declared at a political TV show:

I am convinced the referendum [for natural family] must be done and I asked my colleagues to solve this issue… At the same time… There is in Romania and in the world a whole category of people who have another sexual orientation. one cannot turn our heads fro them and prtend they do not exist… So one must generate a discussion and see the correct solution to leave this natural initiative follow its course [the referendum for natural family] , but also to find a solution for this category as well.

February 28th, 2017

– Gabriel Andronache, a deputy from the National Liberal Party (PNL) officially filed an amendment to the citizens’ referendum initiative. He explained, as quoted by News.ro:

The original proposal [for the constitutional text to be reformulated through referendum] would generate a constitutional text far too conservative… while our proposal allows for a modern approach, in line with the latest generation of human rights.

On February 208th, at the weekly session of the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Dep. Andronache explained his amendment proposal:

We want a separation between the institution of family and the definition given to the institution of marriage.

Dep. Marton Arpad, representative of the Hungarian minority in Romania (UDMR) replied that he was „shocked”. He said that, if the amendment was to pass, family would cease to be defined as exclusively based on marriage.

Eugen Nicolicea (PSD), the committee chairman, also showed that the amendement would annul the goal of the referendum by annuling the definition of family in the Constitution.

– The Association ACCEPT, which promotes LGBT culture in Romania, participated to the same session of the Committee for Legal Matters, Discipline, and Immunities of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies to support a memorandum asking that the citizens’ initiative be rejected for procedural reasons. The said it was registered at the wrong chamber (the Senate) and the deadline for debating it had expired. Their request was rejected as ungrounded.

February 8th, 2017

– The Senate of Romania sent to the Chamber of Deputies the citizens’ initiative to organize a referendum in order to clarify the definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” in the Romanian Constitution. The senators studied the legislative procedure and decided that, despite the fact that the citizens’ initiative was registered at the Senate, the first to rule in this case should the the Chamber of Deputies. To make the adoption quicker, the members of parliament are thinking of a mediation procedure for the approval of this law, which means that, if the Chamber of Deputies approves it, then it can be voted in plenary parliamentary session of the both chambers and it can get through if it receives at least three quarters of the votes of all MPs.

February, 2017

– 41 Democrat members of the newly-elected US Congress (which now has a Republican majority) wrote a letter to the President of Romania, to the Presidents of the two Chambers of the Romanian Parliament and to the heads of the main political parties in Romania, asking them to stop the citizens’ initiative to organize a referendum in order to clarify the definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” in the Romanian Constitution

December 7th, 2016

– 13 Republican members of the 2012-2016 US Congress wrote to the President of Romania, to the Presidents of the two Chambers of the Romanian Parliament and to the heads of the main political parties in Romania, asking them to support the citizens’ initiative to organize a referendum in order to clarify the definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” in the Romanian Constitution

November 25th, 2016

– The Romanian Orthodox Patriarchy invited high officials to an event celebrating 150 years since the adoption of the first Romanian Constitution in 1866 and 25 years since the adoption of Romania’s new Constitution. Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis declined the invitation, prefering to participate to the celebration organized by the Constitutional Court of Romania on December 8th, 2016. Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș, Valer Dorneanu, Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Romania and Florin Iordache, Chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies attended the event organized by the Patriarchy.

– Despite the fact that in an interview given on October 20th, Prime Minister Cioloș seemed to hold the position for the natural family, on this new occasion, he made a seemingly controversial statement, very similar to the position of the so-called progressists: “a democratic debate is not the one where the majority point of view prevails on the minority one”.

Florin Iordache, Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, declared on this festive occasion that “Romania needs today a new modification of the Constitution, which reflects the definition of family according to the wish of 3.5 million Romanians”.

November 24th, 2016

– On the same day when the EU Court of Justice reaffirmed through a new ruling the principle of subsidiarity of member states in terms of legally defining marriage, Romania’s Minister of Justice Raluca Prună stated in a televised show that “having a restrictive definition (of marriage) would be intolerant… Just like my identity is Romanian, I think I can (also) have sexual identity “.

– The Coalition for Family responded to the accusations of the LGBT activists through a press release, stating that its message was positive and tolerant and firmly “disavowing all types of violence or offensive remarks”. The Coalition affirmed the accusations of hate speech and violence brought against it by the LGBT activists were unfounded.

November 19th, 2016

Two Romanian LGBT organizations organized at Bucharest the march “God does not make politics”, suggesting that the referendum is a political, not a civic initiative and that it had religious motivation. Approximately 200 persons attended the rally. After the event, a photo circulated on Facebook showing a leaflet circulated by the organizers among the participants, with suggested slogans to be chanted at the march. These slogans alleged that Romania starts to look very similar to Russia in terms of democracy, that the church is interfering with democracy and that the referndum initiative is spreading hate towards minorities. The leaflet contained the phone number of one of the organizers.  After this photo was circulated – including by media outlets favorable to the LGBT movement -, the organizer whose name was on the leaflet pretended that a supporter of the Coalition for family called and threatened him.

November 15th, 2016

Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, participated in an event where journalists invited him to comment on the most recent evolutions regarding the referendum initiative. He said: “It seems as a wise decision to have a referendum in spring. If all the political parties want to be on the Coalition’s side, it means there is where tolerance is best promoted”.

November 14th, 2016

– Daniel Gheorghe, deputy in the Romanian Parliament and a member of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Bureau, was the first to announce on his Facebook page that this second-largest Romanian party (which has given the President of Romania), agreed to ratify a protocol with the Coalition for Family, committing to political action facilitating the organizing of the referendum next year.

– ALDE, a wing of liberals and democrats, also ratified a similar protocol with the Coalition in order to have the referndum organized in the spring of 2017.

November 10th, 2016

– Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), one of the major political parties in Romania, declared at Digi24 TV channel that in the course of the day he had met with the Coalition representatives and agreed to a referendum in the spring of year 2017. “Because we must answer this issue which risks producing deep scars in Romanian society unless decided through referendum. This issue is deeper than it seems at first sight. I strongly believe in those values. I do”, Dragnea said.

November 9th, 2016

– Trump’s victory in the US election. He and his party, the Republicans, had repeatedly declared themselves against “marriage equality”and in favor of protecting freedom of conscience and freedom of relgion against discrimination lawsuits filed against people refusing to collaborate in organizing same-sex “marriage” ceremonies on religious grounds.

– Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, meeting the students in political sciences from Bucharest, declared that “what can never be obtained through vote is social peace. Social peace can only be obtained through compromise… between politicians, between politicians and society, between society and church, between the different groups of society. Never can social peace be the result of a referendum-type voting”.

November 6th, 2016

– The Chamber of Deputies did not get to discuss the referendum initiative in its last plenary before elections and it was postponed for the next parliamentary session and the next Parliament resulting after the December 11th, 2016 elections.

November 1st, 2016

The Committee for Legal Matters of the Senate unanimously voted to admit the citizen’s initiative to organize the referendum to redefine marriage in the Constitution. The interventions were very favourable the President of the Senate, Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, the second most important official position in Romania, said: “We have a moral obligation to show citizens respect for their initiative, which should become a part of our Constitution”. On November 6th the referendum initiative was to be discussed in plenary at Romania’s Senate. Then the Juridical Commission of the Chamber of Deputies was to give approval and afterwards the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies was to discuss it. It has become hard to believe it would all be possible in a single day, as the MPs were about to take a break and go into the territory to prepare for the parliamentary elections. At this point it had become improbable that the referendum could be organized on the date of the parliamentary elections (December 11).

– Just as the Committee for Legal Matters of the Senate unanimously voted to admit the citizens’ initiative to organize the referendum to redefine marriage in the Constitution, Mrs. Raluca Prună, Romania’s Minister of Justice, spoke at a symposium dedicated to tolerance and anti-discrimination, showing regret that the number of justice trials according to recent legislation on discrimination are just a few. She said she would have liked to see more convictions on grounds of racism and xenophobia. She went on to declare: “They [the convictions] are not as many as they should be in a country where… we have extremist movements… extremely promoting traditional values… attempts to legitimate by attachment to traditional values what in fact is rejecting somebody else’s fundamental right – for instance, the right to marriage for all”. At the same event, Cristian Pârvulescu, the dean of the Political Science Department of the National School of Political and Administrative Studies, said: “Illiberalism confuses democracy with elections. Anything that comes out of the elections is democratic. Therefore, if Vladimir Putin is voted in the elections, then he is a democrat… Elections solve the problem and national sovereignty empowers the elected one to go whichever way the respective nation wishes. And, if that way is against human rights and liberties, then that is the national wish. This is how Hitler could ascend to power… Is Romania protected against this?… three million people signed to change the Constitution in a restrictive way… and our political class, with its famous courage, immediately gave way to the pressure of this crowd”.

October 26th, 2016President Iohannis revisited his initial statement and said: “I never accused anyone… and never intended to… Of course they have the right to petition, of course their proceedings are legal and constitutional”.

October 21st, 2016 – The first firm reaction to the President’s declaration came from the Romanian Orthodox Church. The online backlash was instant and came from ordinary and famous people alike, including President Iohannis’ voters. After 24 hours, the leaders of the most important Romanian political parties stated that they supported the citizen’s initiative for the marriage referendum.

October 20th, 2016Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș declared: “I plea for tolerance with respecting the idea of [traditional] family… and I do not believe that the idea of family in Romania should be systematically opposed to the idea of tolerance…Tolerance is shown by respecting other people’s choices”.

October 19th, 2016Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania, declared: ”All I can say is that I come myself from a minority – an ethnic and religious one… It is wrong to listen to and follow the path of religious fanaticism. I do not believe in it and I do not support it. I am an adept of openness and tolerance towards the other”.

October 17th, 2016 – The redacted ruling of the Constitutional Court permitted the Parliament to start legal procedures to clear the pathway towards the referendum. The Permanent Bureau of the Senate sent to the Juridical Commission of the Senate the citiziens’ initiative to revise the Constitution in order to define marriage as union between a man and a woman.

October 14th, 2016 – With a delay of more than a month over the time required by law (30 days), the Constitutional Court of Romania redacted and published its unanimous ruling on the petition for a referendum on marriage. The document mentioned: “The notion of family life is a complex one, including actual family relations, which are distinctive from the family relations resulting from marriage, whose importance entitles the fundamental lawmaker to distinctively mention, in art. 48, the protection of family relations resulting from marriage and from the rapports between parents and children. … the proposition to revise the Constitution only targets marriage and family relations resulting from it – not family life in the sense of art. 26 from the Constitution… By examining the redacting of art. 48, para 1 from the Constitution proposed by the revising initiators, the Court concludes that it does not cancel, remove, eliminate or annul the institution of marriage… all warranties fort the right to marriage, as they have been enshrined in the Constitutional reference text, remain unchanged. Replacing the syntagm “between spouses” with “between a man and a woman” only makes a clarification about exercising the fundamental right to marriage in the sense of an express mention that this is meant to be contracted between partners of different biological sexes – which has actually been the original meaning of the text. In 1991, when the present Constitution was adopted, marriage was seen in Romania in its traditional meaning of a union between a man and a woman. This idea is also supported by the subsequent evolution of family law in Romania and by the systematic interpretations of the constitutional reference norms. Thus, art. 48 of the Constitution defines the institution of marriage correlating it with child protection, both for children “outside” and “inside” marriage. It is obvious, therefore, that the constitutional lawmaker based on the biological component its conception about marriage, which has undoubtedly been regarded as a union between a man and a woman, since only through such a union children can be born, either inside or outside marriage… the Court concludes that the initiative the revise the Constitution is constitutional in relation with the provisions in art. 152 para 2 of the Constitution, as it does not cancel the right to marriage and it does not remove any of its warranties”.

July 20th, 2016 – The Constitutional Court of Romania ruled in unanimity that the citizens’ petition for a referendum (to enshrine in the Constitution that marriage is a union between a man and a woman) was constitutional. Despite the fact that LGBT advocates were starting to claim that this democratic initiative infringed on their “rights”, the president of the Constitutional Court, Valer Dorneanu, declared: “The right to marriage has not been enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right. And European jurisprudence allows member states sovereignty in pronouncing on whether to admit same-sex marriage. Neither is there an infringement on the concept of family life, which is larger than marriage and it comprises relations with the children, with relatives, defining their obligations and kinship. (…) For these reasons we have concluded that the constitutionality conditions required by articles 150 and 152 are met and the proposition can follow its course”.

June 25th, 2016 – Until then, LGBT advocates had claimed not to be interested in “marriage equality”. But the press release of the 12th edition of Bucharest Pride (the march of homosexuals) showed that the organizers viewed marriage as a universal human right infringed upon by the three million people who signed the petition for referendum to define marriage as a man-woman union. They claimed the initiative represented hate speech. Romania’s newly-established LGBT organization MozaiQ publicly summoned authorities to take steps towards legalization of same-sex “marriage” and civil partnerships. Meanwhile, the other organization, Accept, wrote that “three million people were motivated by hate towards LGBT people”. Ioana Ulmeanu, an editor with ELLE Romania glossy magazine compared the three million people with the plague.

May 23rd, 2016 – the 3.000.000 signatures were registered at Romania’s Senate, according to the law, waiting for the Constitutional Court to pronounce itself on the conformity of the initiative and then for the Parliament to approve it by two thirds majority. To accomplish the final goal, at the referendum, at least 30% of Romanians should participate in the voting and at least 50% plus 1 of all valid votes should support the change in article 48 of the Constitution.

April 24th, 2016 – 3.000.000 signatures were gathered; since the law required a minimum of 500.000 signatures gathered in 6 months from all over the country in order for the referendum initiative to be valid, the Family Coalition worked with around 80,000 volunteers, benefiting from the support of all Christian denominations.

November 25th, 2015 – The Family Coalition, an alliance of Romanian pro-family organizations, officially published their initiative to modify article 48 of the Constitution by replacing the word “spouses” with “a man and a woman”. They asked that a referendum be organized for the people to directly have their say in the matter.

June 11th, 2013 – Under almost total media black-out, the commission for the revision of the Constitution re-discussed the previously voted amendment, this time giving it a “politically correct” verdict, opting back for “spouses” instead of “one man and one woman”.

June 5th, 2013 – The marriage amendment, also officially supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church, was adopted by the commission for the revision of the Constitution; Victor Ponta, the Prime Minister at the time, immediately said he would have preferred Romania not to send a signal that it was “a fundamentalist republic”; Romania’s Anti-Discrimination Council said it was a discriminatory amendment; and Amnesty International added pressure by condemning the move of the Romanian MPs.

April 20th, 2010 – In order to respond to the people’s will, the Members of Parliament established a commission to amend and revise the Constitution; one of the amendments submitted for approval on this occasion aimed for a clearer definition of marriage in the Constitution (as the “union between one man and one woman” instead of “between spouses”), in order to align it with Romania’s Code of Civil Procedure, where marriage is clearly defined as such.

November 22nd, 2009 – Romania’s President at the time, Traian Băsescu, initiated a referendum to cut down on the number of MPs and make Romania’s Parliament unicameral instead of bicameral (Romania’s citizens voted in favour).

 

 

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