An opinion by an Advocate General of the European Court of Justice just said that every member nation of the European Union (EU) must recognize same-sex couples. The opinion proceeds a similar ruling expected from the Court in the coming months. 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 humongous deal affecting untold hundreds of thousands of people.
How the court’s opinion could soon affect European Union gay marriage
Melchior Wathelet, Advocate General of the European Court of Justice’s (basically the court’s top lawyer) said that “even countries whose governments oppose same-sex marriage” must recognize the civil and legal rights of same-sex couples, according to The Guardian.
Wathelet issued the opinion in regards to a 2010 case involving a Romanian citizen named Adrian Coman who married his American husband, Claibourn Robert Hamilton, in Brussels in 2010. When they returned to live in Romania, the Romanian government replied that it doesn’t legally recognize same-sex marriages.
The men appealed the decision to Romania’s constitutional court, and the court referred it to the European Court of Justice. Wathelet explained that the EU defines marriages simply by the act of being wed, not by gender nor where the wedding occurs.
While opinions issued by the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General are non-binding, they’re normally followed by the full court decision from the official justices.
Basically, Wathelet’s opinion lays the groundwork for a landmark LGBTQ rights victory that would affect Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Today’s opinion comes on the heels of a Tuesday ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that 20 Central and South American countries must legalize same-sex marriage (or at least confer the legal rights associated with it).