Vice Speaker Manana Kobakhidze, one of the parliamentarians behind the bill. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–A parliamentary commission has launched a public debate about a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The first meeting was held on Friday in Telavi, in the eastern Kakheti region of Georgia. The commission listened to the opinions of locals.

The proposal was put forth by the government and defines marriage, in the first point of article 36 of the Constitution, as: “marriage, a voluntary union of a woman and a man, in order to set up a family, is based on the equality of rights of the spouses.”

That passage currently reads that marriage is based on the equality of rights of the spouses and that it is voluntarily.

A draft bill was submitted to parliament on March 15. It had the signatures of 80 MPs from the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition Free Democrats party. March 18, the assembly voted to set up a commission to organize public hearings.

The Republican Party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, opposed the bill, but two of its MPs, Fridon Sakvarelidze and Malkhaz Tseretei, broke ranks and supported it.

The commission was created on March 18, and Friday’s debate in Telavi was the first in a series public meetings to be held different parts of the country.

Meetings will also be held in Rustavi on March 28, Zugdidi March 31, Batumi April 2, Ozurgeti April 2, Akhaltsikhe April 5, Tbilisi April 6, Gori April 6, Kazbegi April 7, Mestia April 8, Ambrolauri April 14 and finally in Kutaisi on April 15.