“European DOMA” compatible with EU fundamental values, Commission says

By J.C. von Krempach, J.D. | December 10, 2015

The European Commission has announced yesterday that it will officially register the new European Citizens’ Initiative “Mum, Dad & Kids”, which intends to collect signatures in support of a law that would define marriage EU-wide exclusively as “a union between a man and a woman”, thus preventing the EU from referring in its legislation to any other concept of marriage.

The legislative draft that the petitioners have submitted for registration strongly resembles – and indeed seems to be modelled on – the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a United States federal law which had been adopted by the US Congress in 1996 but was (partially) struck down by the US Supreme Court’s highly controversial judgment in the case of United States v. Windsor.

In assessing the proposed citizens’ initiative, the European Commission has come to very different conclusions than the US Supreme Court, finding that the proposal to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman (and, thereby going even further than DOMA did, family as the spouses and their descendants), “does not manifestly fall outside the framework of the Commission’s powers to submit a proposal for a legal act, that it is not manifestly abusive, frivolous or vexatious and that it is not manifestly contrary to the values of the Union”.

While the US Supreme Court’s controversial decision was based on the US Constitution, which is not of application in the EU, the European Commission’s assessment is based on the EU Treaty, and in particular on the EU Fundamental Rights Charter.

The new citizens’ initiative is part of a series of initiatives through which civil society seeks to prevent marriage and family being surreptitiously re-defined through the activism of law-makers and judges. Similar initiatives are currently under way in various European Countries, such as Slovenia, Switzerland and Romania. Several other countries have already amended their Constitution to protect marriage against re-definition, the most recent cases being Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia.