Civil unions vote not up to CEI-Renzi

CEI chief appealed for secret vote on rights for gay couples

(ANSA) - Rome, February 12 - Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday that it was not up to the Italian Church to decide whether a parliamentary vote on a bill regulating civil unions, including same-sex ones, should be a secret ballot. On Thursday Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of Italian bishops conference CEI, called for a secret vote on the bill, which many Catholics and conservatives oppose. The appeal led to several lawmakers from Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) to accuse the Church of meddling in Italian politics. "It is up to parliament and I say that with respect for Cardinal Bagnasco," Renzi told Radio Anch'io when asked about the CEI's call for a secret vote.
    "I like the idea that parliamentarians answer to the vote they make and explains it. Then there is the parliamentary regulation, which envisages secret votes, and (Senate Speaker Pietro) Grasso will decide if the necessary conditions exist, not the CEI". The bill now before the Senate would extend to committed gay couples some of the same rights and protections currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.