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.