The new constitution could expand the definition of marriage to include a "union between two people."
CNN  — 

Lawmakers in Cuba have endorsed a draft of a new constitution for the communist island nation that could, among other things, allow for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

More than 600 legislators in Cuba’s National Assembly approved the draft Sunday in Havana, according to Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party. Here are some of the proposed changes in the new constitution:

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.

Acosta also stated that the lawmakers studied international laws to have a better understanding of human rights and prevent any form of discrimination toward the Cuban people. In addition, he argued, whoever discriminates can be punished.

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

The senior official explained that once the constitution is ratified, lawmakers will have a year to modify aspects of the Civil and Family Code that stem from this change, including inheritance, as well as rights to adoption and assisted reproduction for same-sex couples.

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 eliminates the term “communism” and marks “socialism” as a state policy, which contradicts the current constitution that calls it a “communist society,” says Granma.

Esteban Lazo Hernández, president of the National Assembly, pointed out it is important to remember many things have changed since 1976 when the present constitution was written.

“This does not mean that we renounce our ideas, but in our vision we think of a socialist, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable country,” Lazo said, Granma reported.

In April, Miguel Diaz-Canel was named Cuba’s new President to succeed Raúl Castro, and there were talks of restricting the presidency to two five-year terms, a clause that has been added to the new draft, as well as stating that the minimum age to run for the presidency should be 35 and the maximum 60.

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.