Lithuanian Parliament endorses constitutional amendment linking family to marriage

On 10 December 2013 the Lithuanian Parliament voted in favour of the Constitutional amendment, which redefines a constitutionally protected concept of “family life” as emanating from traditional marriage by a man and a woman and stipulates that family arises from motherhood and fatherhood. After the first hearing, 65 MPs voted yes for amending the Constitution, 8 voted against, while another 11 abstained.

The Article 38 of the Constitution states that family is the foundation of the society and State, and that the State protects and supports family, motherhood, fatherhood, and childhood. According to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, family can be formed by other means than marriage, while the form of a relationship has no essential bearing on the constitutional notion of the family. Thus, the legislative amendment linking family to marriage violates the Constitution.

The voting results show the lack of a unanimous position on the issue among social democrats (3 voted in favour, 3 against, 9 abstained), while the amendment was rejected by all members of the Liberal Movement. “I would like to stress that reality is a lot more complex and diverse that MP R. J. Dagys considers”, says liberal Dalia Kuodytė. The above-mentioned initiative not only seeks to prevent the legalization of same-sex marriage, but also is potentially discriminatory against unwed partners and children born out of wedlock.

This is the second time as the Lithuanian Parliament seeks to amend the Constitution accordingly. In June, 2012 the analogous amendment failed to be approved in the final reading only by one vote, receiving 93 instead of 94 required votes in the Parliament. The bill was submitted by the MP Rimantas Jonas Dagys (Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats) and the MP Rima Baškienė (non-attached Members of the Parliament).

To come into effort, the amendment to the Constitution must be endorsed by at least 94 MPs in the next two hearings.