Same-sex marriage ruling causes storm

Italian bishops, gays react to historic decision

(see related) (ANSA) - Rome, April 10 - Controversy raged in Italy Thursday over a historic court ruling recognising a gay marriage contracted abroad and ordering it to be recorded in the local civil register.
    The powerful Italian Bishops Conference (CEI) said the ruling, handed down by a tribunal in Grosseto on Wednesday in relation to an Italian couple married in the United States, "raises serious questions".
    In a statement the bishops defined marriage "as the union between a man and a woman" and said with this decision "one of the fundamental pillars of the institution of marriage is likely to be swept away, one that is rooted in our cultural tradition, and is recognized and guaranteed in our constitution".
    Gay Center spokesperson Fabrizio Marrazzo described the CEI's reaction as "the umpteenth serious interference by the Italian Bishops' Conference in matters concerning the law, civil rights and freedoms of Italian citizens," and called on the centre-left mayors of major Italian cities including Rome, Naples, Turin, Milan and Bari to follow the lead taken by the mayor of Grosseto, Emilio Bonifazi, by recording the overseas marriages of resident gay couples in their civil registers.
    Earlier in the day Bonifazi said his administration would "conform immediately to the court's decision without opposition," applauding the arrival of clear guidelines for municipal civil-registry offices in respect to same-sex marriages contracted overseas and calling on parliament to provide coherent legislation on the matter.
    Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Senator and ex-Arcigay president Sergio Lo Giudice went one step further, saying "a law on civil unions is all the more necessary in light of the Grosseto ruling".
    Gay and civil-rights activists in Italy have long been pushing for a law granting legal recognition to same-sex couples but efforts have always been thwarted by Catholic and right-wing opposition. Lo Giudice was echoed by former PD member of parliament and president of Gaynet Italia, Franco Grillini.
    "After Grosseto the Senate and House need to give priority to the rapid recognition of the rights of gay couples," said Grillini, describing as "unbearable" the slow pace at which parliament has moved on the issue up till now. Maurizio Sacconi, Senate whip for the New Centre Right of Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, took an opposite line, describing as "absurd" the "campaigns launched by idealised minorities to introduce fractious elements threatening the cohesion of a country that is already depressed and disorientated by contesting principles such as the constitutional uniqueness of natural marriage".
    Sacconi called on Catholics and non-Catholics to unite against what he described as "this divisive campaign". On Wednesday the Grosseto court upheld a petition by Giuseppe Chigiotti and Stefano Bucci, 68 and 57, to be allowed to record their marriage, contracted in New York in December 2012, in the local civil register after their request was rejected by the municipal authorities on grounds that two people of the same sex cannot be married under Italian law. Local judge Paolo Cesare Ottati argued that the Italian civil code "contains no reference to sex in relation to the requisites" for marriage and that there is "no impediment to the registration of a marriage contracted abroad". Registration is not by nature "constitutive, but only confirmative" of an act "that is already valid," he ruled.