(CN) - Lest anyone think the European Union is a bastion of progressive thinking, the European Commission has cleared a citizen petition to define marriage in EU law as a union between a man and a woman and family as based on marriage or descent for circulation.
The petition, titled "Mum, Dad & Kids - European Citizens' Initiative to Protect Marriage and Family," would for the purposes of all EU law define marriage as being for heterosexual couples only - and that "families" can only be formed when two people of the opposite sex create them.
"The increasing fragmentation of the concepts of 'family' and 'marriage' poses a problem for the EU," the backers of the petition say in their objectives statement. "EU legislation refers to both terms, but the meaning is increasingly unclear and there are diverging definitions in different EU directives. This initiative proposes to remedy this situation by adopting an EU-wide definition of both terms that is compatible with the legislation of all member states."
According to the organizers, the initiative will somehow manage to "fully respect" each member state's authority to legislate on marriage and family. So while some member states have chosen to make same-sex marriage legal - the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, France, Luxembourg and Ireland - EU lawmakers will have no business opening that door themselves if the initiative is approved, the backers say.
The group has one year to collect 1 million signatures from EU citizens in at least seven member states. If successful, the commission then decides whether or not it will present the petition to lawmakers for approval and explain the reasons for its choice.
If the commission ultimately rejects the petition, the group can take its case to the European Court of Justice.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament passed a resolution recognizing same-sex marriage as a human and civil rights issue. The resolution won the backing of ministers from 15 of the EU's 28 member states.