It’s been a long and arduous road for pro-family forces in Romania committed to amending the nation’s constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman – and also the strengthening of parental rights in deciding children’s education.
The first stage involved collecting the signatures of 500,000 voters in support of a draft law (a citizen’s legislative initiative). The Coalition for Family secured 3,1 million. It also far exceeded the geographical distribution requirement – at least 20,000 signatures in 21 of Romania’s 42 counties. Instead, it met the threshold in 40 counties.
Another hurdle was overcome last July, when the nation’s Constitutional Court approved the measure for ballot status, stating that it meets all requirements of the Constitution of Romania.
Now, the measure is before the Parliament, which must pass it as a constitutional law. After that, the referendum is automatically scheduled for the last Sunday of the following 30 days period. Leaders of the campaign were hoping that the legislature would approve the initiative earlier in spring or not later than this month, so that the referendum could take place the last Sunday in May.
Instead, both Chambers of the legislature claim they lack competency to make a decision here, even though Romania’s Constitution requires them to take action once the other requirements have been met. Although during the elections campaign last December both biggest parties (Social Democrats and Liberals) signed written agreements in support of the initiative now appears clear that parliamentarians want to block the measure, but don’t want to go on record opposing it.
So far, the initiative has received broad support from all Christian denominations, with Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches being the most vocal and involved in the campaign. International legal groups like ADF International, Liberty Counsel and the European Center for Law and Justice also helped – with the ADF International particularly active – submitting legal briefs to the Constitutional Court of Romania and drafting opinions in the Romanian Parliament, in support of the Coalition for Family. (first published in WCF Newsletter, vol. 10 no. 2, april/may 2017)