EU Advocate General Melchior Wathelet advised [opinion, PDF] the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] Thursday that the rights of same-sex spouses must be recognized by every member of the EU, even if a country’s government has not authorized same-sex marriage.
EU law [materials] permits the spouse of an EU citizen to obtain a residence permit for the EU member state where the spouse resides. But Romanian authorities refused to honor a request of a same-sex couple. The couple challenged the decision in Romania’s constitutional court, saying it was discriminatory on the grounds of sexual orientation. Romania’s constitutional court then referred the case to the ECJ.
According to Wathelet, the term “spouse” includes, in the light of the freedom of residence of citizens of the EU and their family members, spouses of the same sex.
A press release [PDF] from the ECJ states “the legal issue at the centre of the dispute is not that of the legalization of same-sex marriage, but that of the free movement of EU citizens. While Member States are free to provide for marriage between persons of the same sex in their domestic legal system or not, they must fulfill their obligations under the freedom of movement of EU citizens.”