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Commentary. Thousands of Italians rallied in city squares across the country in support of gay rights. With a vote on civil unions heading to Parliament, the government must stand on the side of equality.

A cry for freedom

An excited, joyful, Italy democracy that takes to the streets to demand equality and freedom, these days is news. New gay families — and many others — who met in a hundred Italian cities no longer want to feel like social phantoms. They want to be recognized in the light of the sun.

Women and men who for more than a decade — it was 2002 when we last discussed a law for civil unions — who have fought and organized themselves so as not to suffer the indignity of living as second-class people, have found the strength to show in public the pride and dignity of their experiences of marriage and family.

Tens of thousands of people have left their apartment buildings, schools and offices, raising the veil of silence and determined to defend the rights of so many people — adults and youths, parents and children — to live in a country that finally, by law, regularizes and protects their life choices.

For all these people today there is no light, there is no future under the leaden sermons of Cardinals Ruini and Bagnasco, under the shameful banner of regions led by the Northern League and Berlusconi as they prepare for “Family Day.”

To this reality, which is fully part of our daily lives, there is no political listening, because the parties and parliament have to offer above all a faithful, honest representation of their historic inadequacy.

This is demonstrated by the embarrassing, hateful delay in coming (perhaps) to a moderate legislative breakthrough, still mired in instrumental distinction between gay couples and heterosexual couples, including children and stepchildren. One cannot underestimate the subordination that, even today, the political class shows to the most conservative commandments of the Catholic Church.

It is a subordination used as a shield, a screen, an alibi behind which hide an idea of ​​marriage and family ruled by hierarchies and roles, the result of a reactionary defense of the ancient structures of privilege (patrimony and gender).

It looks like a déjà vu from the campaigns for divorce and abortion in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when the Christian Democrats considered a divorced woman scandalous and the Italian Communist Party deemed the working population unprepared for the challenge of secular civilization. Because even then, at the time of the referenda for divorce and abortion, the hypocrisy of eternal marriage and the horror of clandestine abortions were revealed as constructs that denied the value of motherhood and conscious choice.

People voted, and it was clear what our country wanted.

Not much has changed in the attitude of some in politics and the church. We are, in 2016, still attending Family Day gatherings and still struggling with a party like the Democratic Party. We’re far from recognizing secular culture because we’re still divided between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, conditioned by opposition inside the Catholic Church and by tireless lawmakers drafting amendments that deny full recognition of same-sex marriage.

Some attitudes haven’t changed, but fortunately we have changed the world in which we live every day.

In Italy and abroad, where the strength of the Catholic religion seemed to have foreclosed empowerment and rights, people (such as the Irish) have rallied to affirm them. Despite delays and ultra-Catholic opposition, we will probably end up with a law. Which law? We won’t know until the Cirinnà bill goes to Parliament for vote. We’ll see if the Renzi-Alfano government will succeed where previous governments have failed.