Isamaa leader: Marriage must be defined in Estonian Constitution as union of man, woman

  • 2020-06-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonia's junior coalition partner Isamaa, said that amendments to the Foreign Service Act not promulgated by President Kersti Kaljulaid indicate the need to define marriage in the Constitution as a union between a man and a woman.

According to Seeder, an amendment needs to be introduced in the Constitution that clearly states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, Isamaa spokespeople said on Thursday. "The amendments to the Foreign Service Act not proclaimed by the president on the grounds that marriage and cohabitation are not treated on an equal footing further increase the need to define marriage in the Constitution," Seeder said.

President Kersti Kaljulaid decided on Thursday to not promulgate amendments to the Foreign Service Act as not consistent with the constitution. The head of state said that the main inconsistency with the Constitution lies in the amendments giving unequal treatment to the spouses of members of the foreign service and partners registered in accordance with the Registered Partnership Act. 

According to Seeder, there is serious food for thought in that the Foreign Service Act, which has been in force for decades and has provided additional benefits to spouses, is now, unexpectedly, unconstitutional in the opinion of the president. "In light of this decision, it is clear that concrete steps must be taken to protect the institution of marriage," Seeder said.

The Isamaa leader said that a traditional family is the cornerstone of society. "This is a value-based issue stemming from the long history and tradition of the institution of marriage. It is the most stable and common form of cohabitation that the state must value. At the initiative of Isamaa, Estonian tax policy has been supplemented with several regulations supporting marriage between a man and a woman. Defining marriage in the Constitution would show that the state values and supports a strong family and the institution of marriage and create clarity in Estonian legislation," the party leader said.

"In 2016, Isamaa proposed to the parties of the Riigikogu to initiate an amendment to the Constitution, which would provide for marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and in 2018, the Isamaa general assembly approved the party's basic worldview principles, which stipulate the same. Now, the political situation has changed and the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) has also started to actively support Isamaa's proposal, which gives hope to include in the Constitution the provision of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Hopefully, this proposal will also find support from other parties," Seeder said.

According to a January 2020 survey commissioned by the the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, 59 percent of respondents supported defining marriage as a union between one woman and one man in the Constitution.