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July 16, 2007

Showdown on Marriage Looming in European Union

The stage is now set for a major showdown on the issue of same-sex marriage in Europe—a debate that has profound implications for the very future of Europe. The precipitating event will likely be Poland’s firm rejection last week of those portions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.

Poland takes this stand in direct defiance of a warning issued last year by the Justice Minister of the EU that countries which discriminated against homosexuals, including prohibiting them from legally marrying, faced sanctions by the EU and the possibility of eventual expulsion. The EU has already passed a resolution condemning Poland’s stand on homosexual “rights” and related issues.

However, most of the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004, like Poland, do not provide any benefits or recognition to same-sex couples, and Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have specific constitutional provisions prohibiting same-sex marriage. Even in the very liberal Czech Republic, which has a registered partnership law for same-sex couples, a recent poll showed that public opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage or allowing homosexuals to adopt has increased significantly in just two years. This is probably due to the strong pro-family leadership of President Vaclav Klaus.

While some of the smaller countries may be easily bullied by the EU, it will be much more difficult with Poland, which is the sixth largest of the 27 EU countries.

This looming debate over the value of traditional marriage and other social issues such as protecting unborn life, may well be the last, best hope for many European societies to avoid their current slide into oblivion.

Most of Europe, including Eastern Europe, is in the process of committing what one analyst has termed “demographic suicide.” The fertility rates are far below the 2.1 children per woman that simply maintains population levels. Most of them, including large countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain, have dangerously low fertility rates. In fact, as a UN population report recently pointed out, some of these countries are experiencing fertility rates that are the lowest in all of human history.

Declining populations will cause major economic and social disruptions as a shrinking number of young people have to try to support an increasingly aging population. This will be especially difficult in many European countries because of currently existing generous social welfare programs.

Although there are a number of reasons for dramatic declines in fertility rates, one thing is clear; legalizing same-sex marriage will never be a part of the solution. In fact, we can be pretty confident that it would only make things worse. There can be no doubt that a significant cause of these declining fertility rates is the increasingly liberal, secular and anti-any-true-values social attitudes that pervades many of these countries.