European human rights court allows ADF to defend Italy’s marriage laws

Brief explains that European countries have sovereign authority to decide marriage for themselves
Monday, February 17, 2014

Attorney sound bite:  Roger Kiska

STRASBOURG, France — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the European Court of Human Rights Friday in defense of Italy’s sovereign right to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The court’s Second Section agreed last week to allow Alliance Defending Freedom to intervene as a third party in defense of the country’s marriage laws.

“The people of Italy recognize that men and women bring distinct, irreplaceable gifts to family life, especially for children who deserve both a mom and a dad,” said Senior Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “Under the European Convention of Human Rights, the Strasbourg court is obliged to allow Italy to define marriage in a manner consistent with this truth. This lawsuit is asking the court to step outside of its bounds and impose a redefinition of marriage upon a Council of Europe member state that has exclusive authority over marriage within its own borders. The court should reject this request.”

The case, Orlandi v. Italy, began after the Italian government denied a marriage license to two members of the same sex who applied for one. The case made its way through Italy’s courts, which all upheld the country’s marriage laws. The same-sex couple then filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights.

The Alliance Defending Freedom brief examines previous European Court of Human Rights positions on the matter, the treatment of marriage in the domestic laws of other nations, the sociological theory behind the definition of marriage and family, and the harms that could come as a result of redefining marriage under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“With regard to sensitive moral and cultural questions, among which the definition of marriage would certain fall, this Court has found it appropriate to cede authority over such issues to Member States themselves exclusively,” the brief states. “The Court has held that it could not impose a single moral code over Europe regarding issues of ethical controversy where the opinions among Member States are so diverse.”

“No intergovernmental court has ever recognized same-sex ‘marriage’ as a right,” the brief explains. “It therefore stands that this Court should continue to follow its previous holdings that the Convention does not confer a right to same-sex ‘marriage.’”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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