Switzerland: Popular Initiative to constitutionally define marriage as between a man and a woman

SwitzerlandJust two months after the referendum that made Ireland the first country in the world to enshrine in its constitution a definition of the term “marriage” that encompasses “marriages” between persons of the same sex, Switzerland has announced that it too will hold a referendum on marriage.

But in the motherland of direct democracy the objective that is pursued is the opposite: a citizens’ committee has collected 120.000 signatures – which is far above the threshold to trigger a compulsory and binding referendum – in favour of an initiative to amend the Federal Constitution by adding the following clause:

Art. 14 § 2 (new)

Marriage is the permanent legal union for life between a man and a woman. Under the aspect of fiscal law, it is an economic community. It must not be discriminated against in comparison to other forms of life, notably not with regard to taxes and social benefits.

(The official version is available in German, French, and Italian.)

For the initiative to be successful, it must obtain a majority of voters both nation-wide and in a majority of cantons.

Bizarrely, the Federal Assembly, in its decision acknowledging the validity of the proposal, advises the people and the cantons to vote against it. By issuing such advice, the politicians seem to be affirming that marriages between men and women should be discriminated against. Let us hope that the people give them the right answer.