The EU has already legislated on these matters, and the ECJ has already issued two judgments (Tadao Maruko vs. Versorgungsanstalt der deutschen Bühnen, and Römer vs. Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg) that extend the social benefit of homosexual couples on the condition that, according to the legislation of the Member State, their position is overall comparable to that of a married couple.
It should nevertheless be mentioned here that the purpose of a survivor’s pension is to protect the economically dependent part of a couple. In the “traditional” family, it is typically the woman who, dealing with child rearing, has renounced the possibility of earning her own salary and acquiring her own pension rights. In this way, the granting of a survivor’s rent recognises the importance of the contribution to the common good by couples who, re raise and educate the children that will later, through their work, finance the pensions not only of their own parents, but of all people of senior age.
As regards the situation of same-sex couples, it should be noted that they usually have no children. (If they have children, those children stem from prior heterosexual relationships of one or both of the partners.) Typically, therefore, they form double-income households and do not face the same financial burden as a family that, with one or one-and-a-half incomes, has to finance the upbringing of children. The pensions of same-sex couples are financed by the work of the children other people have born and raised.
With no children to be educated, there is no reason why each same-sex partner should not earn his own salary and acquire his own pension rights. Is there any reason for society to subsidise, through pensions or tax benefits, the particular lifestyle of same-sex couples in which one partner does not work?
The larmoyant complaint that, in the case of a same-sex partner’s death, the surviving same-sex partner may be left “without financial support” is thus absurd and misleading. The reality is rather different. Market research has found that gay and lesbian couples have more money to spend than most other groups in society – precisely because they usually have two incomes and no children to support. As a consequence, they “have the epicurian spending habits of businessmen”: for example, they do twice as many city-trips than average tourists, and a third of them do even five or more such trips per year. Two thirds of them spend more than 3000 Euro per year on their holidays.
It is undoubtedly within the European Commission’s competence to deal with social policy. But this social policy should strive for social justice, rewarding those who make a particular contribution to the common good, and lending support to those who cannot provide for themselves. It is highly disturbing to see the Commission lending uncritical support to “survivor’s pensions for same-sex partners”, while failing to show similar eagerness when it comes to improving the situation of young parents with children.