“All happy families are the same; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Tolstoy
There can be an infinite discussion about the notion of family. Because a family consists of individuals. And each individual is unique. Taken together, they may or may not form families or heterogenous groups whose common interests either unite and animate them or divide and put them at loggerheads.
But, from the standpoint of the legal definition, and especially from a political point of view, family becomes, in the strictest of terms, a simple customary concept. Limited and forced to limit itself, poorly and vaguely, to several general attributes. Defined, not lived, family completely lacks its true meaning or authentic diversity. It is just an idea forcefully shoved in-between the limits of literal attributes or absolutely subjective linguistical traits.
Ever since it formed the government, PSD seems to have formed another great and inexplicable fixation. This time, apart from the obsessive need to bring suspicious, well-aimed modifications to the judicial laws, or to systematically detonate in the public space the eternal populist media “bombshells” regarding the deep state, PSD has focused, through touchingly patriotic dithyrambs, visibly rich in demagoguery and noxious excesses, on the imperious need to redefine the notion and constitutional framework of the concept of family. And not just any family. But necessarily the traditional one.
The idea of the opportuneness of hastening a referendum on the constitutional definition of the family has stirred, as expected, a multitude of social waves which, in their turn, have created a veritable split and fragmentation at the heart of civil society and a continuous clash of pro and con ideas.
Following the Coalition for Family initiative to collect signatures for this referendum, the conclusion and result reached was that, of the 6 million Romanians who could take part in the referendum, only 3 million showed their interest by signing.
But what happens with the other 3 million who did not sign for this referendum?!
And… what will happen if this referendum does not reach that critical voter turnout threshold needed for validation?
Because, if now (in fact, ever since 2015, when this whole story started), when this referendum is not yet behind us and it has not set in stone the new legal and constitutional definition, there are strong reactions of aversion, homophobia, religious ultra-radicalism, discrimination, social rejection and incredible tendencies to stigmatise and isolate those who do not position themselves “fanatically” on one side or the other of the barricade that divides and irreconcilably separates the 3 million who are in favour from the 3 million who are against, what will happen in case this referendum wins or loses?
Hence another big, threatening, and insurmountable dilemma as backdrop of the problem – that of identifying and correctly defining what family means in substance and reality.
Whether it bears the title of traditional, modern, constitutional, legal, institutional, single-parent, same-sex, etc.
And these things must be established as quickly as possible because tensions have already started to grow as we approach the D-Day of the referendum.
People are diverse and have different opinions and views on the same thing. And, even though I am convinced the majority means well and wants what is best for itself and in general for everyone, things have started to slowly escalate up to the point of becoming explosive and dangerous. Each person has their point of view and truth that they badly care about and that they are ready to back with arguments as firm and immovable as possible.
And tolerance and calm are starting to suddenly evaporate from public discussions and debates.
Nobody can say (or can no longer do so without being at risk of becoming the target of public fury and ridicule) something other than what the country’s Constitution and law says – family represents the freely-consented marriage (union) between a man and a woman.
A veritable war of ideas, principles, causes and clauses more-or-less religious, legal, of sexual orientation, educational, customary, traditional, national, extremist or free-thinking that tend toward an epic phase that the ruling coalition now foresees as doable sometime in June this year systematically starts from who knows what.
Provided President Klaus Iohannis in the meantime promulgates the new referendum law and the latter passes through Parliament in time.
However, from this whole national feud over another totally abstract ideal, a simple but crucial question stands out. One that is as concrete as possible and not at all idealistic or abstract:
Why this urgent need for a referendum and who feels it? Especially a referendum on the redefining of the family!
Because, if we are to review the current problems briefly and very quickly, the ones facing each family currently living in Romania, the institutional and especially political preoccupation so obsessively fixated on rewording a simple and completely decorative definition of the idea of family should remain the last. If not actually the smallest and even one of the dispensable current issues of Romanian society.
Starting from the simple but essential reason that the holding of a referendum entails the mobilisation of human and material resources that are extremely costly and burdensome for us all at this moment, and continuing with aspects as real as they are worrisome for our daily lives and the life of any family, such as:
School dropout due to the increasingly higher degree of poverty in most Romanian families (annually, approximately 30,000 children abandon school); abandoned new-borns; the highest infant mortality rate in Europe; the highest divorce rate in the first 3 years after marriage; terrifying statistics on domestic violence against women, children or elderly; the ever-growing rate of unemployment experienced by one or several family members; a huge tax burden compared to the purchasing power and monthly and annual incomes of a family; the young population’s marked and obvious trend of giving up on the traditional institution of marriage in favour of celibacy or free cohabitation due to motives and reasons that should really preoccupy us and should raise huge question marks regarding the future of any kind of family that could still come into being in the following years in Romania etc. etc.
Finally, I believe many other such current issues represent or should represent, in my opinion, just as many reasons for extreme national urgency. With or without referendums.
Politicising an important element of society such as the family does not constitute an opportunity or a necessity, and it certainly should not be a reason to create even more chaos and dissolution or another reason to stoke and escalate already existing tensions at the heart of civil society.
As a politician, declaring yourself “a religious fanatic” when asked for your opinion on same-sex marriage, claiming that you are entirely and immovably in favour of “marriage between a man and a woman,” but at the same time making the gossip media headlines due to dysfunctionalities that are not just political but mostly personal in nature, I believe emphasises what is the political purpose and the degree of real interest and sincerity invested and masked in this referendum from the point of view of Romanian politicians.
Personally, I believe that, eventually, the family should remain outside any political interference. Precisely because family represents the oldest and most important institution of any state in the world and at any point in history.
It is an issue of minimal common-sense and minimal Christian and social morality (not to mention the quasi-inexistent Romanian political morality) to let each person decide personally, intimately, peacefully and without any kind of political interference, in what type of family they want to live and especially how they want to live.