by Alexandra Denisa Neagoe
A highly debated subject in Romania these days is the revision of the article 48 of the Romanian Constitution. The article states that “family is founded on the freely consented marriage of the spouses, their full equality, as well as the right and duty of the parents to ensure the upbringing, education and instruction of their children.” The modification debated is the replacement of term “spouses” with the terms “man and woman”, because the former is thought to be too vague, making it possible for gay couples to marry, which, God forbid, would be something completely wrong.
It all started with the group “Coalition for Family” (RO: Coaliția pentru familie), gathering 3 million signatures in favor of this replacement to happen and asking for a referendum to take place in order to revise the Constitution.
They claim this revision is necessary in order to protect “the primordial role of the family”, that is essential to be formed by a man and a woman in order to “assure a proper environment to raising and educating children”. I will say, that I partly agree with their statement. It is important to assure a good environment for children in a family. However, I don’t see how it is essential for it to be formed between a man and a woman. There are countless examples of Romanian children living in poor conditions, with parents who abuse them and who are not taking care of them, leaving them to be raised by grandmothers or sometimes by themselves or each other. According to a study made in 2014, by the Ministry of Labor and the organization “Save the Children” (RO: Salvați copiii), over 60% of the children are being abused by their family. How can this be okay as long as the family is formed from a man and a woman? Why wouldn’t it be acceptable for two women or two men to raise a kid together as long as the child is properly raised and educated?
And just how there are countless examples of children not being raised properly by “normal” families, there are also countless same sex families, who raise their children in a loving and caring environments. Two of the better known LGBT+ families are the ones formed by Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka who have two twins and Sir Elton John and David Furnish, who again have two young boys that are properly cared for, surrounded by all the love they need.
Such examples happen even in our country. My mother is a kindergarten teacher where, of course, the majority of the families are formed between a man and woman. However, this year she also has a kid in her class who is raised by two women. The two are a couple and they both raise him together, even though only one of them appears in documents as his mother, since the law doesn’t permit it otherwise. He addresses them both as “mom” and he is a very well educated child. He is properly dressed, fed and has everything a kid needs to be happy and more.
Another reason behind this referendum and the replacement of the term “spouses” is the need for the family to procreate in order to perpetuate the human race. This, of course, logically speaking, it is true. You do need a man and a woman to conceive a child, or at least parts of each of them. However, in this day and age there are numerous methods through which one can have a child: in vitro fertilization, intrauterine inseminations, donor eggs and embryos, surrogate mothers and many others. People no longer have to strictly have sexual relations in order to have child, so the problem with procreation shouldn’t be considered an issue anymore. Plus, there are many children in orphanages that could be adopted but these families and be raised and educated in better environments.
According to a study from the United States, an estimated 16.000 same sex couples raise more than 22.000 children in the US. In the same study it is shown that more than 100.000 same sex households include over 200.000 children under the age of 18 and more than 100.000 same sex couples, raise approximately 170.000 biological, step or adopted children.
A concrete example in this direction is that of a boy from the United States, named Michael, who was put in the foster system at the age of 7. Most families that adopt, want babies or very young children. As the year passed the chances of him finding a home grew smaller and smaller. However, at the age of 16 he was adopted by a lesbian couple who raised him with all the love and care he didn’t have from his real parents. Now, he is attending college and went from being an isolated person to being a very friendly one. All because of a same sex couple that offered him a chance to a better life.
There is, however a downside to raising children in same sex marriages or families. Living in a country like Romania where being different or loving different than the norm, is a quite the challenge. Therefore raising a child in an environment like this might result difficult, given the fact that she or he might be bullied or seen as different because of his or her family. People complain and wonder how to explain to a child why two men or two women are holding hands or kissing, but if you think about it, can you imagine how difficult it is to explain to a child why some people are against love and judge their happiness and their family? Children don’t care that your parents are two moms or two dads, unless taught otherwise. They just want to play and make friends. Sure, they might ask questions, but we shouldn’t be afraid to answer them. Isn’t it easier to explain to a child that love is love, rather than teaching them that loving different is wrong?
So in that sense, raising a child in a hostile environment towards same sex couple will be a challenge for the years to come. The child might be bullied, laughed at and fought with, making life a bit harder. Still, this only proves that the problem doesn’t come from the family being different but rather from the problem we have, as a society, of accepting others who don’t fit in the norm.
All in all, I would say that such groups and actions taken against a certain group of people are discriminatory and not only do they promote intolerance but also hate crime, contributing to the oppression of LGBT+ community in Romania. And the topic of same sex marriage, although still taboo, is one that can and should be discussed by both sides of this issue, giving that there’s plenty to talk about. All people have to do is to be open to a dialogue and listen. Until then I will leave with this question: why fight against love when you can fight for love?