Romanians vote on changing the definition of marriage

Romanians were voting Sunday for a second day on a constitutional amendment backed by the influential Romanian Orthodox Church that would make it harder to legalize same-sex marriage.

The conservative Coalition for Family initiated the referendum and Orthodox priests during Sunday services encouraged the faithful to vote.

The proposed amendment would change the definition of family in Romania's Constitution to make marriage a union between a man and a woman instead of between "spouses." Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Romania.

The Central Electoral Bureau said 7.24 percent of voters had cast a ballot by mid-morning Sunday in the two-day referendum. The vote requires a 30 percent turnout to be valid.

Opponents say the new constitutional language could make LGBT people feel more like second-class citizens and could discriminate against non-traditional families. They say say the amendment is redundant since Romanian civil law already says that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

In the village of Adunati-Copaceni, south of Bucharest, the capital, only 62 people had cast their vote by mid-morning out of a total electorate of 1,147.

Priests leading worship at St. Mary's Church encouraged the congregation to vote. Retired farmer Ana Buturgianu, 69, said she'd heed the advice, as did Andrei Aurelian, a 53-year-old cashier who did not.

"The vote is for us and for our children. It's normal to have a man and a woman, not two men together," Aurelian said.

But Bucharest resident Marin Soare, 50, who cycling through the village Sunday, said he was boycotting the vote, calling it "a waste of money."

"We already have traditional families in Romania and have done so for 2,000 years," he said. "And there's always been same-sex relationships; men with men and women with women."

Alex Hartan, 23, a hemophiliac who relies on an electric wheelchair, said he was opposed to legalizing same-sex marriages but think the traditional family was under threat in Romania.

"I can't vote in any case, as I can't get into the polling station with my wheelchair," he said.