Monday, on May 23rd, after a nationwide campaign to gather support signatures, the Family Coalition officially filed with the Romanian Senate the constitutional amendment proposition to define marriage as the union „between a man and a woman” instead of „union between spouses”. The Family Coalition made of this quite an event, with a symbolical letter to the MPs which they dubbed „the longest letter in the world”, a sort of long banner with the text of the amendment on it and lots of space for whoever wanted to sign.
It is a first time in the history of Romania when such a large number of citizens support an initiative for a constitutional amendment ballot.
The new phrasing in Romania’s Constitution is also aimed to enhance the parental right to raise and educate children by the parents’ values and beliefs: „A family is established through the free-willed marriage between one man and one woman, and is based upon their equality and their right and their duty to provide for the raising, the education and the training of the children”.
What is next:
The Constitutional Court is to sanction the civic action within 60 days.
The Parliament will discuss the proposition in both Chambers; the law may pass upon the votes of 2/3 of total members.
A national ballot is necessary to change the Constitution. The Initiative Committee would like to have it together with the parliamentary elections scheduled for this fall.
Inspired by a first-time initiative coordinated by 16 men and women, 3 million Romanian citizens have signed to ask for the modification of the article 48, paragraph 1 in the Constitution so that the family would be based on “the marriage of one man and one woman” rather than “a marriage between spouses”.
The history and context of the marriage amendment:
November 22nd, 2009 – Romania’s President at the time, Traian Basescu, 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);
April 20, 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 was also the one regarding a clearer definition of marriage in the Constitution: as the „union between one man and one woman”;
June 5th, 2013 – the marriage amendment, also supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church, was adopted in the commission for the revision of the Constitution; the Premier of the time, Victor Ponta, immediately said he would have preferred Romania not to send a signal that it is „a fundamentalist republic”, Romania’s Anti-Discrimination Council said it was a discriminatory amendment, Amnesty International condemned the Romanian MPs move;
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”;
November 25th, 2015 – the Family Coalition, an alliance of Romanian pro-family organizations, officially published their initiative to modify the Constitution by replacing the word „spouses” with „a man and a woman” in article 48, where marriage is defined. They asked that a referendum be organized for the people to directly have their say in the matter.
April 24th, 2016 – 3.000.000 signatures were gathered; since the law required a minimum 500.000 signatures gathered in 6 months from all over the country in order for a referendum initiative to be valid, the Family Coalition worked with around 80,000 volunteers, benefiting from the support of all the Christian denominations
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 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 wording change in article 48 of the Constitution.