'Spouse' includes same-sex partners, European Union court adviser says


EU Advocate General Melchior Wathelet advised [opinion, PDF] the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] Thursday that the rights of same-sex spouses must be recognized by every member of the EU, even if a country's government has not authorized same-sex marriage.

The case will be decided by a national court or tribunal later this year - although judges generally follow the Luxembourg court's directives.

The opinion was given on the case of a Romanian national, Adrian Coman, who wishes to build a life in Romania with his American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, who he lived with in the USA before marrying in Brussels in 2010.

Romania has laws that prohibit the marriage of same sex couples, and doesn't recognise them at all in the legal system - resulting in the Romanian nationals spouse being unable to take up residence as the spouse of an European Union citizen.

The judge said the term "spouse" in European Union law had to be "interpreted autonomously and uniformly throughout the EU", adding that it "refers to a relationship based on marriage while nevertheless being neutral as to the sex of the persons concerned and indifferent as to the place where that marriage was contracted".

The judge added that "the objective of protecting the traditional family can not justify discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation" and that "the concept of "spouse" within the meaning of the directive also includes spouses of the same sex".

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Despite their legal marriage in a fellow European Union state, Romania is resisting the activist's attempts to gain residency rights for his husband, as it does not allow same-sex marriage.

The Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld said: "This is fantastic news and a landmark opinion for rainbow families". Combined, they could soon require each of the EU's 28 member nations to extend the rights and benefits of marriage equality to LGBTQ people across Europe - European Union gay marriage right would be large deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people.

Anti-gay USA evangelicals have rallied behind the push. And that two years later decide to move to Romania, where law does not contemplate such unions.

In a message to supporters, the group bragged about its interventions in the eastern European country in a bid to secure a ban on same-sex marriage.

"Romania's Constitutional Court recently approved and confirmed more than three million citizen signatures (in a country of less than 20 million people) calling for the national referendum".