Italy Divided Over Effort to Legalize Civil Unions for Gays

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from The New York Times,

Six years ago, Andrea Rubera married his partner in Canada, where the couple later became parents of three young children. But when they returned to their native Italy, a transformation occurred. Mr. Rubera suddenly became a single man, and his legally recognized husband in Canada became his single male roommate in Italy. Italian law also divided custody of their children.

The family’s journey brought to life the wide divide between Italy and most of the rest of the Western world on civil rights for homosexuals. Like Canada, nearly every Western country has legalized same-sex marriage or some form of civil union for gays and lesbians. Italy is the outlier, partly because of the lingering influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

But on Thursday, following months of delays and political jousting, the Italian Senate will begin voting on legislation to legalize civil unions, several years after a similar effort failed. The outcome remains uncertain, as lawmakers confront an issue that has challenged traditional social mores, jumbled ideological lines and is being debated as the politics of the Catholic Church are in upheaval.

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