The Italian Cabinet approved proposed legislation Thursday granting legal rights to unmarried heterosexual and same-sex couples. Many, including the Italian Catholic Church and opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi have now vowed to battle against it.
"This doesn't intend to create a new legal status," Family Policy Minister Rosy Bindi reportedly told a news conference, but would allow couples to register their cohabitation. She insisted it would not legalize same-sex marriage.
The issue has divided the current government, with Justice Minister Clemente Mastella abstaining from the Cabinet meeting. According to the AP, he stated that family, “as stipulated by the Constitution, is only that founded on marriage.”
Opponents say the law would launch an attack on the values and sensibilities of millions of Italians, but supporters argue that it would not create a new family model but only recognize the basic rights of couples.
Interior Minister Giuliano Amato reportedly added that the relationship doesn't have to be a sexual one to qualify for protection. He gave the example of two widowers who decide to live together.
According to the SIR news agency, the Italian Bishop’s Conference said today that the new legislation would create “far more serious problems than those it aims to tackle.”
The bishops stressed that it would “weigh heavily on the future of our society both at the legal and cultural level and will have a relapse on the lives of Italian families.”
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