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Romanians back marriage redefinition, but referendum voided

A man sits draped in a rainbow flag in a nightclub in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, after hearing of the partial voter turnout. Polls have closed in Romania after two days of voting on a constitutional amendment that would make it harder to legalize same-sex marriage. But the weekend referendum to redefine marriage failed to attract large numbers of voters and risk being voided. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — More than 90 percent of those who took part in a national referendum in Romania supported defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but the vote was invalidated as too few people cast ballots, officials said Monday.

The Central Electoral Commission said near-final results showed 91.61 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment to change the definition of marriage — it currently says it’s a union between “spouses.”

But the ballot failed to attract the minimum 30 percent turnout for the result to stand.

Election officials said just 20.41 percent of eligible voters participated in the weekend referendum. Gay rights group Accept said the result showed citizens “want a Romania based upon democratic values.”

Romania’s Orthodox Church, which backed the referendum, on Monday encouraged followers to unite “and to continue to defend the family blessed by God.” It called the vote “a partial success which calls us to hope and work more.”

It added that the church had fulfilled its “civic and moral mission publicly by defending the identity and worth of the family as a human institution created and blessed by God.” However, it added that the referendum had revealed “the level of secularization of Romanian society.”

Opponents argued the new constitutional language could make LGBT people feel like second-class citizens and make other non-traditional families targets of discrimination.

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