It’s a victory for love: the European Union just ruled that same-sex couples have the same residency rights as heterosexual couples, even in countries that don’t officially recognize gay marriage.
The EU’s decision included determining that the term “spouse” is a gender-neutral and includes same-sex parties. This means that the court agreed that all couples—gay or straight—should be allowed to move freely within the EU, regardless of their sexual orientation. In addition to their progressive decision, the court sided with a same-sex couple who was denied the right to reside together in Romania, a country which does not yet recognize same-sex marriage.
“Equality, fairness and pragmatism were at the core of today’s verdict from Luxembourg. The CJEU has acknowledged that rainbow families should be recognized equally in the eyes of the law on freedom of movement,” Evelyne Paradis, executive director of advocacy group ILGA-Europe said in a statement. “Now we want to see the Romanian authorities…move swiftly to make this judgement a reality.”
Equality advocacy groups praised the court's decision to redefine what it means to be a "spouse"—however, the court didn't push countries like Romania or other anti-equality states to allow same-sex marriage.
The couple behind the ruling was Adrian Coman, a US-Romanian citizen, and Claibourn Hamilton, a US citizen who met in 2002. The two lived in New York together from 2005 to 2009, before Coman moved to Brussels to work at the European Parliament. In 2010, the two tied the knot in Brussels. When Coman left his job, the two considered moving to Romania, but the Romanian authorities said that Hamilton could not be classified as a spouse of an EU citizen in Romania because it does not recognize same-sex marriages. Therefore, the two would not be able to find a legal temporary living situation in the state.
The two brought the issue to Romanian courts, accusing the state of discrimination against sexual orientation. Romania's Constitutional Court asked the Court of Justice to determine whether Hamilton could be considered the spouse of an EU citizen, and thankfully, the couple's case defined the meaning of a "spouse" and granted the couple (and other same-sex marriages!) equal residency rights.
The court noted that while it will grant residency rights across EU states, it "does not require that Member State to provide, in its national law, for the institution of homosexual marriage." Nor does it "undermine the national identity or pose a threat to the public policy of the Member State concerned."
Hamilton and Coman are still considering it a win, though, and it's one step closer to a more equal, tolerant world. All together now: LOVE. IS. LOVE.