MARRIAGE AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM:
Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together
<According to article 9 of the CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE
EUROPEAN UNION on the” The Right to marry and the right to found a family:
“The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.”
The official explanation of the article writes: “This Article is based on Article 12 of the ECHR, which reads as follows: ‘Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family according to the national laws governing the exercising of this right.’ The wording of the Article has been modernized to cover cases in which national legislation
recognizes arrangements other than marriage for founding a family. This Article neither prohibits nor imposes the granting of the status of marriage to unions between people of the same sex. This right is thus similar to that afforded by the ECHR, but its scope may be wider when national legislation so provides.” The “modernization” of the wording of article 12 ECHR is - unknown to the drafters - ironic, first of all. The whole purpose of the human rights movement after the Second World War was to afford the human person European protection against the State. The modernized version in article 9 withdraws this protection! In its modernized wording there is nothing left to protect. The purpose of article 12 was quite specific and clear. The marriage vow between a man and a woman is given special protection because of the special purpose of founding a family. Such protection is bound to be undermined by recent developments giving unions between two persons of the same sex the same rights and status. Done in the name of the principle of equal treatment, it shows the extent of philosophical and moral confusion underlying the drafting of the European Charter.>
This text is excerpted from page 268 of my latest book “ European Unification into the Twenty First Century: Fading, Failing, Fragile? Published this week on
I deliberately use this text to introduce a most interesting letter, published recently by the religious leaders of the major denominations in the United States on the serious consequences of “modernizing the wording” of article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The letter, of course, was addressed to all Americans, but is equally relevant to all Europeans.
Beware: “Modernizing”is Eurospeak for undermining a legal tradition and a civil law founded on marriage and the family over many centuries. It amounts to a direct attack on the fundamental right to religious freedom.