LGBT Rights Trip Up European Union Unity

EuropeanUnionLike the United States, with its federalist laws and Defense of Marriage Act, the European Union lacks unity when it comes to LGBT rights. One nation may recognize same-sex nuptials or the adoption of a partners' children, but others won't, leaving countless couples in legal limbo, the New York Times reports.

One story of discrimination abroad:

Brad Brubaker, an Ohio native, met his British partner, Paul Feakes, in California in 1995. Mr. Brubaker moved to London and eventually acquired British citizenship. They entered a civil partnership, identical in all but name to marriage. Three years ago they moved to Italy and decided to open an art gallery in the Tuscan seaside town of Pietrasanta.

Italy did not recognize their partnership. In contrast to the normal treatment for married couples working together, they were forced to register the gallery in Mr. Brubaker’s name alone, while Mr. Feakes had to be listed as an employee — with a contract and payroll and all the costly extra paperwork that entailed.

“That’s when we realized the discrimination of it,” Mr. Brubaker said. “People think Europe is so far ahead, and I guess in some ways it is. But it’s not quite there yet.”

The debate overseas parallels the one we hear here in the States: right wingers fear new marriage and family laws encroach on native, often religious traditions and constitutes an overreach of state power.

"A general application of the rule of mutual recognition of civil status documents will result in a situation where the political and social choices of some member states would be imposed on all the others," a Christian lobbying group called CARE for Europe said. And yet American conservatives continue to use the word "European" as a political attack.

Comments

  1. Rob says

    Well granting gay rights DOES encroach on religious traditions, just like granting women’s rights does. Religious traditions are about social control, specifically for a few privileged men. Religions aren’t representative democracies, so parishioners only pay- they get no say. Especially young Catholic boys.

  2. oakpope says

    I’m convinced that in less than a generation marriage equality will be in effect in all EU countries, maybe with Italy and some East European ones being last.

  3. Andy says

    I lived through that story… I’m American and my husband is Austrian. When we met in Austria in 2004, they didn’t have a civil unions law yet, so our only option was the leave the country – no marriage certificate = no visa. In the meantime, we could move back to Austria, but there’s no end in sight to the (federal) discrimination in the USA. All I can do it cross my fingers that the Supreme Court kills DOMA.

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