Thirty-seven Democrats in the United States Congress have told lawmakers in Romania not to allow a referendum supported by 3 million Romanians that would create a constitutional amendment identifying marriage as a union between only one man and one woman to proceed.
As over 3 million of the 20 million Romanian citizens have signed onto a petition calling for a popular vote to constitutionally protect the traditional definition of marriage, the necessary steps have been taken to legally require that Romanian lawmakers vote on allowing the people of Romania decide how marriage will be defined in the southeastern European country's constitution.
Not only did the marriage amendment petition amass the required number of signatures to force Romanian lawmakers to debate the issue, the Romanian constitutional court ruled in November that such an amendment initiative could proceed.
As an introduced bill to create a nationwide vote on the marriage issue makes its way through parliament, Democrat members of Congress sent a letter on Feb. 22 to Romanian Senate President Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu and the president of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, Liviu Dragnea, urging them not to allow the referendum effort to move forward.
Unlike the United States, Romanian law requires that the parliament and constitutional court first approve of the amendment before the issue can be decided by the voters. Parliament must vote in a two-thirds majority to allow the ammendment to proceed.
"We understand that the Romanian Parliament soon may take up the question of whether to authorize a referendum that may enshrine in the Romanian constitution a definition of family that would exclude gay and lesbian citizens from the rights and responsibilities embodied in civil marriage," the letter states. "We respectfully urge that such a referendum not be allowed to proceed."
The letter also warns that any change to exclude the LGBT community from receiving benefits and rights allowed to hetrosexual couples could result in violent backlash.
"Along with many of Romania's western partners, the United States has recognized, through its judiciary, that our country is stronger when marriage is conditioned on mutual love and commitment and when the rights, benefits and responsibilities of civil marriage attach equally to all persons who make that commitment," the letter continues. "We also recognize that violence and further discrimination follows any instances of inequality. We urge Romanian authorities take no step that would divide your country from its partners in this recognition and to be wary of any ensuing violence that may occur."
Included as signatories in the letter are, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who ran unsuccessfully to be the Democratic National Committee chairman, and former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the former DNC chair.
Peter Costea, a Houston-based lawyer and a president of the Alliance for Romania's Families, told The Christian Post on Tuesday that he is optimistic, considering the makeup of the Parliament, that enough members would vote in favor of the referendum to allow it to proceed to a vote.
Although no vote is yet set in the parliament, Costea is optimistic a parliamentary vote could occur by the end of March. He said that if the Parliament votes to allow the referendum, a popular vote could happen as early as April.
Costea said that he was "taken aback" and "shocked" to see the Democratic congress members meddle in Romania's marriage debate and is alarmed that they would encourage Romanian lawmakers to prevent the referendum from proceeding.
"You are talking about a Democracy that is only about 27 years old and people are trying to exercise their constitutional rights and Congress members in the United States who are supposed to protect our civil rights in the United States, they go to a different country and say, 'Hey, don't exercise your civil rights.' They tell the Parliament, 'Don't even vote on this issue,'" Costea said. "It's not just meddling. It's fairly malicious and an attempt to prevent the people from speaking their minds on the issue."
"In my mind, this is really, really unacceptable," he continued. "It doesn't matter where you stand on the issue of gay rights and same-sex marriage. It is entirely irrelevant. It's like telling the people of Texas 10 years ago when we voted on this issue, 'Don't do it.'"
Costea was so upset by the letter that he even sent his own letter to Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who was listed as a signatory on the letter.
"This was the most significant citizens-initiated constitutional referendum in Romania ever," Costea's letter reads. "As one who is intimately familiar with the vicissitudes the people of Romania faced throughout their history, as well as the cruel communist system under which they were condemned to live for 45 years, I must state, respectfully, that the note from the  members of the U.S. Congress is, to great extent, an affront to the 3 million responsible Romanian citizens who signed the petition in support of the constitutional amendment."
Costea told CP that members of Parliament are still working out procedural standards and mechanisms for the process that will ensure that the losing side can't complain that the procedure was unconstitutional.