Cuba nixes same-sex marriage language in new constitution

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Lawmakers in Cuba said a provision opening the door for same-sex marriage legalization would no longer be part of the draft of a new constitution for the nation.

Cuba’s National Assembly said Tuesday it decided to drop the issue after the majority of people polled in community meetings said they were against same-sex marriage.

Last summer, more than 600 legislators approved a draft of the new constitution with language that didn’t specify the gender of individuals getting married. It only described it as “a consensual union between two people.”

The final version of the proposed constitution must pass through a popular vote in 2019.

Same-sex marriage is not off the table, lawmakers say

The current constitution, written in 1976, defines marriage as “the voluntary established union between a man and a woman.”

For Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State, the concept of marriage had been modified to represent the future of Cuba.

“We are not the first, nor would we be (in) the vanguard in this matter because there are around 24 countries that have this concept incorporated; we could not turn our back on this issue when preparing a new constitutional project,” Acosta told lawmakers last summer, according to Granma.

Government officials said Tuesday they plan to hold a separate referendum on same-sex marriage within the next two years.

Other changes in the constitution

The changes in the draft come after months of public meetings.

From August 13 through November 15, the public was able to suggest changes to the proposed draft before the National Assembly submits the proposed constitution for public approval through a nationwide referendum.

The approved draft also eliminated the term “communism” and marked “socialism” as a state policy, which contradicts the current constitution that calls it a “communist society,” says Granma.

A clause restricting the presidency to two five-year terms and stating that the minimum age to run for the presidency should be 35 and the maximum 60 was also added to the draft.

Even though the office of the presidency is not going away, under the new constitution, the president will no longer be the head of both the Cuban Council of State and Council of Ministers. Instead, the new position of prime minister will be created to lead the Council of Ministers.

“The new constitution will take into account all human issues and bring social justice to build a better political system for our people, and strengthen the national unity,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said, the Ministry of International Affairs reported.

The constitutional reform would also open a path to owning property and will recognize private property and businesses as part of “Cuba’s socialist economy,” which Cuban officials note is a big step to improving the island’s wealth, and a move forward from the current communist constitution that only recognizes state property and agricultural businesses.